Role of Attention in the Formation of Illusory Correlations Among Preschoolers


A large body of research shows that adults will form illusory correlations in the course of category learning. Surprisingly little research has examined illusory correlations among children. Two experiments examined the formation of the illusory correlation in 3- and 5-year-olds. Experiment 1 provides evidence that these young children will not form illusory correlations in a novel categorization task. Results from experiment 2 indicate that eliciting an attentional shift caused younger children to form an illusory correlation. These results are the first to show that the tendency to form illusory correlations occurs early in development. Furthermore, these results have important implications regarding the mechanisms responsible for illusory correlations.

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