A longstanding debate in the categorization literature concerns representational abstraction. Generally, when
exemplar models, which assume no abstraction, have been contrasted with prototype models, which assume total abstraction, the former models have been found to be superior to the latter. Although these findings may rule out
the idea that total abstraction takes place during category learning and instead suggest that no abstraction is involved, the idea of abstraction retains considerable intuitive appeal. In this article, we propose the varying abstraction model of categorization (VAM), which investigates the possibility that partial abstraction may play a role in category learning. We apply the VAM to four previously published data sets that have been used to argue that no abstraction is involved. Contrary to the previous findings, our results provide support for the idea that some form of partial abstraction can be used in people’s category representations.