ATTENTIONAL BEHAVIORS OF YOUNG CHILDREN WHILE FORMING RULES FOR IDENTIFYING SAMENESS

EILEEN MARY CUNNINGHAM, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine young children's attentional behaviors as they develop the ability to identify sameness. Relationships between dimensional preference and the identification of sameness were monitored over eight months. The study's theoretical foundations were based on perceptual learning theories (Gibson, 1969; LaBerge, 1976; Neisser, 1976; Posner, 1973).^ The investigator examined the relationships between: (a) initial dimensional preference and shifts in such; (b) dimensional preference and use in sameness tasks with novel and familiar stimuli; and, (c) use of the preferred dimension in these sameness tasks.^ Sixty-eight preschool children with normal color vision, attending private nursery schools in Rockland County, New York, were tested three times at four month intervals. The Attentional Behaviors Test was used to monitor the status regarding the presence of a dimensional preference, and the preferred dimension (color or shape). The Test for Identifying Sameness consisted of two sub-tests to monitor attentional deployment to color or shape in non verbal tasks. Sub-test I contained familiar geometric shapes grouped in triads, in a forced choice format. Sub-test II contained novel distinctive features of letters in a match to sample format.^ Pearson Product-Moment correlations were computed for children having a preferred dimension. No significant relationships existed between the preferred dimensions at three testings. Significant relationships existed between the dimensional preference and its use at the initial and third testings with novel stimuli only. Significant relationships existed between the use of the preferred dimension with familiar stimuli and with novel stimuli at the initial testing only.^ It was concluded that three-year olds can abstract color as a preferred dimension but cannot process multidimensional stimuli; experience a transitional period following the development of the ability to process one dimension, during which time selective attention is not possible; and, use rule governed behavior to identify sameness. The rule, however, does not evidence flexibility characteristic of automaticity.^ The study confirmed the need to provide opportunities to classify various types of materials; to encourage verbalizations regarding classification choices; and to direct attention to stimulus dimensions to facilitate processing and development of strategies for identifying sameness of multidimensional stimuli.^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

CUNNINGHAM, EILEEN MARY, "ATTENTIONAL BEHAVIORS OF YOUNG CHILDREN WHILE FORMING RULES FOR IDENTIFYING SAMENESS" (1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8223592.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8223592

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