Jessica Horst is now at the University of Sussex. Lisa Oakes is now at the University of California, Davis.
Toddlers can adaptively change how they categorize: same objects, same session, two different categorical distinctions
Article first published online: 13 AUG 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 12, Issue 1, pages 96–105, January 2009
How to Cite
Horst, J. S., Ellis, A. E., Samuelson, L. K., Trejo, E., Worzalla, S. L., Peltan, J. R. and Oakes, L. M. (2009), Toddlers can adaptively change how they categorize: same objects, same session, two different categorical distinctions. Developmental Science, 12: 96–105. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2008.00737.x
- Issue published online: 22 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 13 AUG 2008
- Received: 12 May 2006Accepted: 29 November 2007
Two experiments demonstrate that 14- to 18-month-old toddlers can adaptively change how they categorize a set of objects within a single session, and that this ability is related to vocabulary size. In both experiments, toddlers were presented with a sequential touching task with objects that could be categorized either according to some perceptually salient dimension corresponding to a taxonomic distinction (e.g. animals vs. vehicles) or to some less obvious dimension (e.g. rigid vs. deformable). In each experiment, children with larger productive vocabularies responded to both dimensions, showing evidence of sensitivity to each way of categorizing the items. Children with smaller productive vocabularies attended only to the taxonomically related categorical grouping. These experiments confirm that toddlers can adaptively shift the basis of their categorization and highlight the dynamic interaction between the child and the current task in early categorization.