ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2008, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (09): 987-993.

Children’s Development of Analogical Reasoning from the Perspective of Perceptual Distraction Task

MA Xiao-Qing;FENG Ting-Yong;LI Yu;LI Hong

1. sychology School, Southwest China Normal University, Chongqing 400715, China
• Received:2007-02-09 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2008-09-30 Online:2008-09-30
• Contact: LI Hong

Abstract: The mechanism underlying the development of children’s analogical reasoning is not yet well explained. Growing domain knowledge and relational shift from perceptual similarity to relational similarity had been used to explain the development of analogical reasoning. Although younger children were asked to attend relational similarity, they could not inhibit the advantage of perceptual similarity in analogical reasoning task. We hypothesized that inhibitory control of perceptual distraction may be an important factor that influenced children’s development of analogical reasoning.
Using four kinds of self-designed picture-mapping tasks, we explored the influence of perceptual distraction on children’s development of analogical reasoning, and the possible mechanism underlying the development of analogical reasoning. The picture-mapping tasks included four kinds of condition: single relation with no distraction, single relation with distraction, double relations with no distraction, double relations with distraction. 90 children aged 4, 5 and 6 years participated in the study. Each child completed tasks of all the four conditions.
The result indicated: (1) With relevant knowledge and experiences, children’s performances in analogical reasoning were modulated significantly by perceptual distraction. Children’s performances were better in conditions with no distraction than conditions with distraction. Even 4 years olds understood the task and selected the right relational match when there was not perceptual distraction. Error analysis suggested that children were more likely to make distraction-error than other errors, but this tendency decreased with age. It confirmed that inhibitory control of perceptual distraction may have an effect on children’s development of analogical reasoning. (2) Children’s ability of analogical reasoning developed with age. 6 years olds were remarkably superior to 4 years olds and 5 years olds in the analogical reasoning tasks, but there wasn’t significant difference between 4 years olds and 5 years olds in the analogical reasoning tasks.
The major finding of the study is that inhibitory control of perceptual distraction may be one mechanism critical to children’s development of analogical reasoning. In general, most children of 6 years old can inhibit irrelative distracting objects and complete analogical reasoning tasks on the basis of relational similarity

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