Comparison and contrast in novel objects categorization: the role of executive functions


We investigated how 4- and 6-year-olds use within and between category comparisons when they generalize novel names for novel objects on a nonsalient dimension such as texture (rather than shape). Children first learned a novel name for one or several stimulus. In the generalization phase we pitted a texture match against a shape match and we manipulated the quantity of information (positive or negative evidence). We manipulated number of standards, presence of contrast and age. Our results confirm the role of within category comparisons in texture choices. Further, older children performed significantly better than younger children only when there were four standards. Hence, increasing the load of comparison does not hinder but may be of more help for older than for younger children. We also found a beneficial effect of between category comparisons for both age groups. This is compatible with the role of executive functions in comparisons.

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