The Roles of Comparison and Function in the Categorization of Novel Objects in 3-Year-Olds Open Access

Kimura, Katherine Chiyono (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/rj4304995?locale=en
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Abstract


Abstract
The Roles of Comparison and Function in the Categorization of Novel Objects in 3-Year-Olds
In early development, children learn to organize their environment into categories, often
using an object's shape as a basis for category membership (e.g., grouping an apple with other
round objects). However, when children have the opportunity to compare similarly shaped
objects from the same category (e.g., an apple and a pear), they are more likely to group objects
based on function even when the function match is perceptually dissimilar (e.g., a banana). Even
in the absence of comparison, children can extend category membership by function when
functional information is highlighted. The current studies explore the unique and combined roles
of comparison and function in the assimilation of novel instances (e.g., a kiwano) into familiar
categories (e.g., fruit). In Experiment 1, 3-year-olds viewed one or two photographs of familiar
exemplars drawn from the same familiar category and selected another category member
between two objects: a perceptually similar, outside-of-category, familiar object (e.g., a balloon)
and a perceptually dissimilar, within-category, novel object (e.g., a kiwano). Children, regardless
of whether they viewed one or two objects, preferred the familiar perceptual match to the novel
category match. In Experiment 2, when the perceptual and category matches were both novel,
children displayed evidence of benefiting from comparison. Functional information, however,
did not increase category responses, suggesting that highlighting function may fail to increase
awareness of functionally relevant, perceptual properties. Together, these findings underscore the
difficulty in assimilating novel objects into familiar categories but demonstrate that comparison
may assist in this process.

Table of Contents

I. INTRODUCTION........................................................................

1

The Defining Characteristics of Categories

2

The Role of Perceptual Features in Categorization

3

The Role of Relational Features in Categorization

6

Structural Alignment

7

Functional Information

10

The Current Study

12

II. EXPERIMENT 1........................................................................

14

Method

15

Participants

15

Materials

15

Procedures

16

Results

18

Individual Patterns Analysis

19

Naming Analysis

20

Discussion

21

III. EXPERIMENT 2.......................................................................

24

Method

24

Participants

24

Materials

25

Stimulus Ratings

25

Procedures

27

Results

28

Individual Patterns Analysis

29

Naming Analysis

30

Individual Items Analysis

31

Discussion

33

IV. GENERAL DISCUSSION.............................................................

35

The Role of Structural Alignment

35

The Role of Functional Information

40

Limitations and Future Directions

44

Conclusion

47

V. REFERENCES...........................................................................

49

VI. TABLES.................................................................................

53

VII. FIGURE CAPTIONS.................................................................

59

VIII. FIGURES.............................................................................

60

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