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  • Author: Maciej Haman x
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Internally-driven change and feature correspondence in object representation: A key to children's essentialism?

Two experiments were run to investigate how preschoolers use the pattern of an object's change as a cue to noticing correlations among the object's subsequent features. Four-year-old children were familiarized with either an internally or externally-driven transformation of an object, and tested for identification of an animation that did not match the familiar sequence of the object's features. In both experiments children in the internal-change group identified the incorrect sequence significantly more quickly than in the external-change condition. These results strongly suggest that perception of internally-driven transformation facilitates the formation of and/or access to a representation of correspondences between subsequent features of an object. The possible role of this mechanism in essentialist thinking is discussed at the end of the paper.

Abstract

Twenty-five years ago, a book “Z badań nad kompetencją komunikacyjną dziecka”, edited by Barbara Bokus and Maciej Haman, was issued containing, among else, the first Polish review of the studies on the development of Theory of Mind. During these 25 years, the area developed extensively and a new “state-of-the-arts” paper is necessary. The current paper does not pretend to the role of a complete review, instead it focusses on two live issues in the Theory of Mind (ToM) research progress: early (before the age of four years) competences in false-belief understanding, which leads to the question of continuity versus discontinuity (e.g., “Two-system theory”) between early and later ToM abilities, and neuroimaging studies of Theory-of-Mind, which may also contribute to the continuity debate.

Abstract

Literate subjects from Western cultures form spatial-numerical associations (SNA) in left-to-right direction, which follows their reading habits. In preliterate children, sources of SNA directionality are more disputable. One possibility is that SNA follows children's early knowledge about text orientation. It could also reflect ipsilateral/contralateral tendencies in manual task execution. Furthermore, SNA's characteristics could differ depending on the evaluation method used. In this study, we test SNA in preliterate preschoolers using object counting, finger counting, and numerosity arrangement tasks. We examined the relations of SNA to children's directional reading knowledge and their manual response tendencies. Left-to-right SNA was pronounced for object counting, disappeared for the numerosity task, and was reversed for finger counting. In all tasks, left-to-right SNA dominated in children who responded contralaterally with their hand. Reading knowledge was partially related to numerosity-based SNA, but not to other SNAs. Based on these findings, we discuss developmental characteristics of different forms of number-space associations.