What is “generalization” and why is it important?

To generalize something is to be able to connect and apply one stimulus, or object, to a different, relatively similar stimulus. An example of this would be asking your child to bring you a fork from the drawer full of plastic and metal forks. If they were only taught that a fork was a metal object with prongs at the end, they would only bring you the metal one. If they had been taught that a fork is any object that is the same shape, regardless of material, color, or style, it would be generalized. This is why generalization is so important. They are aware even though one is plastic and one is metal, that they are both in fact, a fork.