Children's ability to categorize objects is an essential skill that has been heavily studied. Previous research indicates that children initially are drawn to a perceptual similarity such as similar shape as a basis for categorization, leading children to make such mistakes as classifying an apple and a balloon as belonging to the same category. However, further research found that encouraging children to compare two or more examples from a category reduces children's over-reliance on perceptual similarity as a basis for categorization. For example, comparing an apple and an orange encourages children to select a perceptually different looking banana over a perceptually similar balloon as a member of the category. These findings suggest that children begin to rely on deeper, less obvious characteristics of objects rather than only the perceptual ones when encouraged to compare objects within a category. The present study was designed to determine the effects of comparison on the categorization of unfamiliar objects, an important extension of the research on the role that comparison plays in children's categorization. Children saw either one (no compare condition) or two (compare condition) perceptually similar target objects from the same category (e.g., apple or apple and orange). They were then asked to select an object from the same category among a perceptually similar out-of-kind object (e.g., balloon) and a perceptually dissimilar novel member of the target category (e.g., kiwano). Results revealed no clear evidence that comparison facilitates categorization of novel objects in three-year-olds. However, this study is the first step in a series of experiments designed to investigate this acquisition process.
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About this Honors Thesis
|Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor|
|Comparison and Children's Categorization of Unfamiliar Objects ()||2018-08-28||