Concreteness and Relational Matching in Preschoolers


This study investigated the effect of concreteness on preschool children’s ability to recognize simple relations. Participants, age 3.0 to 5.0 years, were asked to make one-shot relational matches from a base to a target display. Two types of questions were posed: Generic in which the base display contained simple geometric shapes and Concrete in which the base display contained colorful familiar objects. Two between-subjects conditions varied the order in which the Concrete and Generic questions were asked. The results reveal relational matching on Concrete questions was significantly higher when preceded by Generic questions than when answered first, suggesting children transferred relational knowledge acquired through the Generic questions to answer the Concrete questions. However, there was no improvement on Generic questions when preceded by Concrete questions. These are novel findings suggesting that young children can better acquire and subsequently transfer relational knowledge from a generic format than from a concrete, perceptually rich format.

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