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Neisser: categorization

ability to treat a set of things as somehow equivalent, to put them in the same pile, or call them by the same name, or respnd to them in the same way


Arterberry & Bornstein (2001)

3 months old categorize objects on motion cues and perceptual features.
Infants were shown either real pictures of animals or vehicles or point light displays
Point light displays remove all attributes except motion, usually on the joints
habituation-dishabituation paradigm:
Infants habituated to either animals or vehicles of the two conditions.
When presented with a picture or point light display from the other category they dishabituated, looked longer, otherwise failed to do so when shown new exemplars from familiar category.


How to show that children see conceptual categories, not perceptual

Through sorting task, which would show conceptual significants of perceptual differences.


Mandler and Bauer (1988)

12, 15 and 20 months (1;4 - 1;8)
Sequential touching - run length
Looking at differences on 1) basic level (car vs horse), basic level with same superordinate level (horse vs dog) and 3) superordinate level with different basic level (vehicle vs animals)
For 1) shown by all children maximized within-category similarity, minimized between-category similarity
For 2) not shown by any
For 3) only shown from 1;8
superordinate levels might play an important role


Pauen (2002)

11 months
Object examination paradigm:
1) given objects from same category to examen until they are familiar with the category
2) given a novel exemplar of familiar category and different category (e.g. a piece of furniture)
3) If manipulating the furniture longer, evidence for categorical discrimination

Pauens goal to check if children discriminate due to perceptual similarity or conceptual differences.
Pauen created animals that resembled furniture and furniture resembling animals to match within and between category similarities from students.
Children manipulated still the new category longer.
Telling students to rate based on prior knowledge or perceptual similarity -> same result if based on knowledge as children


Bauer and Mandler (1989)

Matching to sample task: An example is given and should be correctly matched to the target
19, 25, 31 months (1;7, 2;1, 2;9)
Find contrast basic level and superordinate level
Variation in objects of choice pair -> on basic or superordinate level
No difference between levels
Conclusion: sensitivity to both levels at 19 months


Massey & Gelman (1988)

Can children recognize that biological entities move on their own
3-4 y
Photos of unfamiliar objects: can they move up and down the hill "all by itself"
Categories of 2 animate categories (mammals, nonmammals) and three inanimate categories (statues of animals, wheeled objects, and complex rigid objects (camera))
Wheeled objects can move down a hill
Target shown at random
78% and 90% of children made correct decision
often focus on legs of the animals
most mistakes by 3y about nonmammals, still showed distinction (spider too little to go up the hill)
3 and 4 able to recognize that animates are able to move on their own


Simon and Keil (1995)

Do young children have abstract expectations about what distinguishes insides and outsides of animate and inanimate things.
No concrete knowledge of differences but causal expectations
3-4 & 5-y
"Freddy, the alien alligator that can look through things"
What is the right inside?
Natural kinds and artifacts with either animal like or machine like inside.

Another study: just sheep and decide from 3 jars: gears and dials (maschine inside), organs of a cat (animal inside), small rocks with gelantine (mix of both, aggregate insides)
What would Freddy see?

Younger had more difficulties. Did not choose gears, but other 2 jars.
Chose inside of machines correctly, but for natural kinds the other two as frequently.
Dont know what insides are but more likely to be things as the animals -> show that even youngest had abstract expectations, but lacked concrete examples


Pauen (1996)

Test if shared function is important for categorizing artefacts and shared structure for categorizing natural kinds
Pictures of pairs of artifacts and of pairs of biological kinds sharing a key part
Perceptual similarity was manipulated across pairs -> appearance was differed
4-5 y
tidying up: putting together the same kind of thing
1) experimenter seperates into artifacts and natural kinds
2) expert: not the same thing! Seperate one of the pairs!
Children tended to seperate the natural kinds

Perceptual dissimilarities are taken to specify different subcategories within biological kinds, not in artifacts as long as the function of dissimilar feature remains the same


Rosengren (1991)

Do children understand that natural kinds grow?
3 and 5y
shown pictures of baby animals and new artefacts
2 conditions
same size - bigger: choose btw same picture at same size or bigger
same size - smaller: choose btw same picture at same size or smaller
(same size of artifacts show cracks to show passing of time)
Should pick same size artifact consistently and never smaller animal
5y always right
animals: 3y also high 78% for ss-smaller and 89 for same size bigger - for ss-bigger
artifacts: 3y 78% ss-smaller, but at chance for ss-bigger

Both agegroup know that animals grow or at least do not get smaller
3 y olds uncertain of whether artefacts grew over time

principle of growth first understood in the biological domain


Inagaki and Sugiyama (1988)

4,5,8, and 10 y
About physiological properties and mental states
Questions about target objects like
"Can X breath", "Does X has a heart", "Can X think"
People, rabbit, piggeon, fish grasshpper, tree, tulip, and stone
Decreasing similarity to a person in this order
Children how decreasing tendency to attribute physiological properties to objects as similarity decreased.
Only 4y old attribute stone, tulip and trees physiological properties


Gelman and Kremer (1991)

Find out if children understand natural causes and someone made it this way
4 and 7y
questions about the bbehaviours of a variety of natural kinds and artifacts
E.g. "This is a rabbit and it hops. Why does it hop?" This open-ended question was followed by two direct questions such as "Did a person make it hop?" and "Is there anything inside it that made it hop?". For balloon: "Did a person make it go up into the sky?"

Children overgeneralize involvement of man-made causes to less familiar natural kinds
E.g. human influence of dissolution of water, but not color change of leaves
Children precise in man-made causes in artefacts, only internal causes for self-sustained properties, such as telephone ringing and balloon going up into sky (not self-sustained seldom, like a guitar playing music)

Conclusion: Children from 4y realize that natural causes exist independently of human influence.