Do Objects Matter for Infants’ Formation of a Spatial Category?


Presenting a relation using simplified objects facilitates the generalization of that relation in older children and adults (e.g., Kaminski, Sloutsky, & Heckler, 2006, 2008). We investigated infants’ ability to form a category of a support relation (i.e., “on”) when the objects that depicted the relation were perceptually simple versus more complex. Fifty-three infants of 8 and 14 months were habituated to dynamic support events with either simple or complex objects. They were then tested with events with novel objects, a novel spatial relation, or both. Infants at each age formed a support category, looking significantly longer at test events with a novel than familiar relation. There was a marginal effect of object complexity. The current results suggest a role of object features in infant spatial categorization, and provide the first evidence that infants of 8 months can form a spatial category of support relations.

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