Symmetry: Low-level visual feature or abstract relation?

AbstractWe traced the development of sensitivity to symmetric relational patterns by creating a symmetry match-to-sample task. Children saw a symmetric standard made up of two shapes and chose between two novel alternatives: a symmetric pair and an asymmetric pair. We found that young children chose randomly between the two alternatives. Children were not reliably above chance until 8- to 9 years of age. In a second study, we found that young children could succeed in making relational matches if the triads were designed to invite informative comparisons. These findings show that relational insight of symmetry develops relatively late. However, as with other relations, comparison processes can promote sensitivity to the symmetry relation.

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