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Challenging the notion of a thematic preference in young children.

Authors
  • Waxman, S R
  • Namy, L L
Type
Published Article
Journal
Developmental psychology
Publication Date
May 01, 1997
Volume
33
Issue
3
Pages
555–567
Identifiers
PMID: 9149935
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Many researchers have argued that early cognitive development is characterized by a conceptual preference for thematic over taxonomic relations. However, more recent research indicates that infants and toddlers may not favor thematic relations. To resolve this discrepancy, the conceptual preferences of children ranging from 2 to 4 years of age were examined, using a forced-choice task including a target (e.g., a carrot), a thematic alternative (e.g., a rabbit), and a taxonomic alternative (e.g., a tomato). The effects of age, experimenter's instructions, hierarchical level (basic vs. superordinate), and stimulus medium (pictures vs. objects) were examined systematically. Children revealed no pervasive preference for either thematic or taxonomic relations. This challenges the notion of a developmental shift in conceptual preferences and suggests a more continuous trajectory in early conceptual development.

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