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Young Children’s Ability to Solve Spatial  Problems Involving a Choice
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2009 (English)In: European Journal of Developmental Psychology, ISSN 1740-5629, E-ISSN 1740-5610, Vol. 6, no 6, 685-704 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

When do young children become able to make an adequate choice between two alternatives based on spatial information? Children of 20, 30, and 40 months of age were either presented with two objects with different cross-sections and one aperture, or one object and two different apertures. In each trial there was one object-aperture match and the task was to find that match and insert the object. All the children understood the task and tried to solve the problems but the 20-month-olds performed randomly and not even the 40-month-olds chose all the correct correspondences consistently. The results also showed that it is easier to choose between apertures than objects. This contrasts with the ability to solve the insertion problem once the choice was made. When choosing the correct object or aperture, the 40-month-olds inserted the triangle successfully in 85% of the cases. The boys and girls were equally good at solving the task, but the boys did it faster. The results show that making a choice adds significantly to the difficulty of solving spatial problems. It requires systematic examination of the objects and apertures involved, a working memory that can handle at least three items at a time, and an ability to inhibit an incorrect choice. Such executive functions are typically found in older preschool children but the present task shows that with an appropriate setup their development can be traced from a much earlier age.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 6, no 6, 685-704 p.
Keyword [en]
Action planning, Choice behaviour, Manipulation, Means-end relationships, Mental rotation, Toddlers
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-96468DOI: 10.1080/17405620701766834ISI: 000272382500003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-96468DiVA: diva2:171048
Available from: 2007-11-22 Created: 2007-11-22 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Fitting Objects Into Holes: On the Development of Spatial Cognition Skills
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fitting Objects Into Holes: On the Development of Spatial Cognition Skills
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Children’s ability to manipulate objects is the end-point of several important developments. To imagine objects in different positions greatly improves children’s action capabilities. They can relate objects to each other successfully, and plan actions involving more than one object. We know that one-year-olds can insert an object into an aperture. Earlier research has focused on the start and goal of such actions, but ignored the way in between. This thesis shows that children are unable to fit an object into an aperture unless they can imagine the different projections of the object and rotate it in advance. The problem of how to proceed with an object-aperture matching was studied in 14- to 40-month-old children with a box, different holes and a set of fitting wooden blocks. Study I focused on how to orient a single object to make it fit. Studies II and III added a second object or aperture, introducing choice. In Study I there was a huge difference between 18 and 22 months in solving the fitting problem. Successful insertion was related to appropriate pre-adjustments. The older children pre-adjusted the object orientation before arriving at the aperture(s). The younger used a feedback strategy and that did not work for this task. To choose was more difficult than expected; one must not only choose one alternative, but also inhibit the other. Fifteen-month-olds were unable to choose between sizes and shapes, 20-month-olds could choose between sizes, 30-month-olds could choose between sizes and shapes, but not even 40-month-olds could choose between objects with different triangular cross-sections. Finally, the relationships between an object and an aperture, supporting surface or form were investigated. When comparing tasks requiring relationships between an object’s positive and an aperture’s negative form, between a 3D and a 2D, and between two 3D-forms, we found that the main difficulties is relating positive and negative form.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2007. 84 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 34
Keyword
Psychology, toddlers, action planning, manipulation, means-end relationships, mental rotation, choice, positive-negative form, Psykologi
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-8316 (URN)978-91-554-7028-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-12-13, XI, Universitetshuset, Box 256, 751 05 Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-11-22 Created: 2007-11-22 Last updated: 2010-12-27Bibliographically approved

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