When analogy is perceived as such

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Abstract

Analogies play a significant role in the development and acquisition of scientific concepts and ideas. A critical question is: What causes people to perceive situations as analogical? In an attempt to refer to this central issue, we chose to examine situations that are not considered analogical from the scientific point of view, but have similar perceptual properties and might thus be perceived as analogical by students. Students in the 7th–12th grades were presented with problems related to (a) successive division of physical and geometrical objects, and (b) comparison problems related to physical and geometrical objects. Our data suggest that salient external features of the problems (e.g., similar structure, similar process, and figural similarity), as well as factors related to the solver (e.g., age and instruction) largely influence students' responses to the problems. The theoretical framework, however, is not the most influential factor in determining students' responses to the problems.

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