Replacing Language: Children Use Non-Linguistic Cues and Comparison in Category Formation


Language is a powerful instrument for extracting relational information from stimuli. In a label extension task common labels invite comparison processes that help children focus on the more subtle relational similarity and away from the readily available perceptual similarity of the stimuli. The current experiment aims to explore whether non-linguistic representations of category membership are sufficient to invite such abstractions of relational information. Preschool children were asked to extend a category to either a relational or an object match. When given the opportunity to compare two instances of the category, and provided with a non-linguistic cue children extended the category to the relational match. These results further extend the benefit of comparison in learning, and suggest that language labels are not the only cue children can use in category formation.

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