Looking Patterns during Analogical Reasoning: Generalizable or Task-Specific?

AbstractGiven the importance of developing analogical reasoning to bootstrapping children’s understanding of the world, why is this ability so challenging for children? Two common mechanisms have been implicated: 1) children’s inability to prioritize relational information during initial problem solving; 2) children’s inability to disengage from salient distractors. Here, we use eye tracking to examine children and adults’ looking patterns when solving scene analogies, allowing for differentiation between attention to relations versus to featurally salient distractors. In contrast to a recent study with propositional analogies, our data suggest prioritization of source information does not differ between adults and children, nor is it predictive of performance; however, children and adults attend differently to distractors, and this attention predicts performance. These results suggest that feature-based distraction is a key way children and adults differ during analogical reasoning, and that the analogy problem format should be taken into account when considering children’s analogical reasoning.

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