ERIC Number: EJ849439
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 48
What Makes Relational Reasoning Smart? Revisiting the Perceptual-to-Relational Shift in the Development of Generalization
Bulloch, Megan J.; Opfer, John E.
Developmental Science, v12 n1 p114-122 Jan 2009
Development of reasoning is often depicted as involving increasing use of relational similarities and decreasing use of perceptual similarities ("the perceptual-to-relational shift"). We argue that this shift is a special case of a broader developmental trend: increasing sensitivity to the predictive accuracy of different similarity types. To test this hypothesis, we asked participants (3-, 4-, 5-year-olds and adults) to generalize novel information on two types of problems--offspring problems, where relational matches yield accurate generalizations, and prey problems, where perceptual matches yield accurate generalizations. On offspring problems, we replicated prior findings of increasing relational matches with age. However, we observed decreasing relational matches on prey problems. Provided feedback on their responses, 3-year-olds showed the same trend. Findings suggest that the relational shift commonly observed in categorization and analogical reasoning may reflect a general increase in children's sensitivity to cue validity rather than an overall preference to generalize over perceptual similarity.
Descriptors: Logical Thinking, Abstract Reasoning, Hypothesis Testing, Classification, Feedback (Response), Individual Development, Cues, Validity
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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