Children's Use of Structure Mapping in Numerical Estimation


How do young children connect number words to the magnitudes they represent? Here, we test whether 5- to 7-year-old children, like adults, use Structure Mappings (SM) to link number words and approximate magnitudes. We show that 6- and 7-year-olds’ number line estimates are recalibrated in response to the distribution of numbers being estimated, providing evidence for SM in these older children. We also find that 5-year-olds show improved estimation performance when given visual access to their previous estimates, suggesting that, while these youngest children do not use SM in some estimation tasks, they nonetheless understand the structural relationship between the count list and approximate magnitudes.

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