Get access

Imagining a Way Out of the Gravity Bias: Preschoolers Can Visualize the Solution to a Spatial Problem


  • We thank Julia Li and Saskia Anzola for their assistance with data collections and coding. This research was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grants HD053403 (VKJ) and R37 HD027714 (RK).

concerning this article should be addressed to Amy S. Joh, Box 90086, 417 Chapel Drive, Durham, NC 27708-0086. Electronic mail may be sent to


Can young children visualize the solution to a difficult spatial problem? Forty-eight 3-year-olds were tested in a spatial reasoning paradigm in which they were asked to predict the path of a ball moving through 1 of 3 intertwined tubes. One group of children was asked to visualize the ball rolling down the tube before they made their predictions, a second group was given identical instructions without being asked to use visual imagery, and a third group was given no instructions. Children in the visualization condition performed significantly better than those in the other conditions, suggesting that encouraging young children to use visual imagery may help them to reason through difficult problems.