Distinguishing between elements falls between two extremes. The elements may be radically different, with little or no connection, or they may be so close to identical that the user is barely able to distinguish between them. Counter-intuitively, the closer elements come to matching a pattern without success, the greater the "weight" the elements have for the user.

This phenomenon is due to the user's need to simplify their understanding of their environment. When two elements are dramatically different, the possibility that a pattern will unite them seems remote. The user has little motivation to try creating an overarching pattern which will describe the two as one. When two elements almost match a pattern, the user sees the possibility of extending the pattern to encompass both elements and thus explaining their environment better.

The resolution with which differentiation can take place plays a significant role in the above scenario. Just above the user's threshold for differentiation, the elements will be highly weighted. Just below that threshold, the elements will be seen as "the same," and will have little or no weight.

"Almost right" plaster/paint/trim

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Document Name: tc.instinct.dif.htm
Copyright (c) 1997 -- Mike Fletcher
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