Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Young children show representational flexibilit...

Electronic data

  • Revision_final

    Rights statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cognition. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Cognition, 147, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.11.003

    Accepted author manuscript, 337 KB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC-ND: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Links

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Young children show representational flexibility when interpreting drawings

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
Close
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Cognition
Volume147
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)21-28
Publication statusPublished
Early online date19/11/15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Drawings can be ambiguous and represent more than one entity. In three experiments, we examine whether young children show representational flexibility by allowing one picture to be called by a second name. We also evaluate the hypothesis that children who are representationally flexible see the artist’s intention as binding, rather than changeable. In Experiment 1, an artist declared what she intended to draw (e.g. a balloon) but then produced an ambiguous drawing. Children were asked whether the drawings could be interpreted differently (e.g. ‘could this be a lollipop?) in the presence of a perceptually similar or dissimilar distractor (e.g., lollipop or snake). Six-year-olds accepted two labels for drawings in both conditions, but four-year-olds only did so in the dissimilar condition. Experiment 2 probed each possible interpretation more deeply by asking property questions (e.g., does it float?, does it taste good?). Preschoolers who understood that the ambiguous drawing could be given two interpretations nevertheless mostly endorsed only properties associated with the prior intent. Experiment 3 provided converging evidence that 4-year-olds were representationally flexible using a paradigm that did not rely upon modal questioning. Taken together, our results indicate that even 4 year olds understand that pictures may denote more than one referent, they still think of the symbol as consistent with the artist’s original intention.

Bibliographic note

This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cognition. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Cognition, 147, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.11.003