Children's Understanding of the Link Between Sensory Perception and Knowledge


Over the preschool years, children develop an understanding of the relationship between their senses and the kinds of knowledge those senses acquire. This development may be supported by sensory experiences or may be linked to theory-of-mind development. 64 preschoolers were asked to identify which of 2 confederates knew the identity of a toy animal when each had differential perceptual access to the animal. In the “seeing” condition, one confederate looked at the animal and one did not, and in the “hearing” condition, one confederate listened to the animal’s sound and one did not. 4-year-olds outperformed 3-year-olds in both conditions, and all children performed equally well on both vision and hearing trials suggesting that children come to understand the seeing-knowing and hearing-knowing connections simultaneously. Findings provide initial evidence that theory-of-mind rather than experiential learning is most closely related to developing an understanding of the link between sensory perception and knowledge.

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