ED209 revision: early category representation and concepts

Early category representation and concepts is a dreadful chapter as it’s all over the place but here goes…

We tend to group items into categories which eventually leads to developing concepts. The question is: how do children do this?

Using the familiarisation/novelty approach Younger & Gotlieb found that 3 to 7 month olds had developed a category representation through familiarisation of distorted exemplars. They went on to consider whether the children stored the information through holding every exemplar in their head or whether they used protype extraction and found, as you’d expect, that for small numbers they remembered all the exemplars whereas for large numbers they used prototype extraction. BUT, this used dot patterns and thus is outside the everyday experience. Other studies used more familiar items and went on to consider hierarchies eg furniture, chair, deckchair. How do they do it? Rakison & Butterworth looked at animals and found that the legs were a salient cue.

Developing the categorisations into concepts goes down either the single process route (essentially the categories are elaborated more and more) or the dual process one (perceptual schemas are initially developed but a separate deeper analysis is going on at the same time looking at things like movement, function and so on).

Levels of category were looked at by Quinn et al who looked at the above/below experiment (dots above/below a line). They found that 3 or 4 month olds couldn’t form the abstract concept but that by 6 or 7 months they could. These guys also found that bottom up processing was being used.

Gopnik & Meltzoff looked at the development of categorisation and the vocabulary spurt and found a strong link.

Overall, a dreadful chapter to revise as it seems all over the place with loads of different researchers working in this field. Anyway, it’s on to first words next.

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