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The Encoding of Pictorial Information in Children and Adults

Naus, Mary J.; Ward, William C.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Cognitive Processes, College Students, Memory, Pictorial Stimuli, Preschool Children, Retention (Psychology)


Age and instructional differences in the representation of pictorial information were investigated in a recognition memory task. A total of 56 nursery school and 40 college-age subjects observed pictures under name labeling, color labeling, imaging, and no label instructions. Subjects were then tested for retention of object identity and color information. In general no labeL instructions led to poorer performance than any other condition: the three remaining groups, given an instruction show, performed equally well. Significant age differences were found in memory for both object identity and color information; however, nursery school and college-age subjects showed similar relative performance when tested for these two kinds of information, and most subjects at each age level showed superior retention of object identity over color information. These results suggest some limitation on the generality of claims that young children are more oriented to color information thanare adults and, more importantly, that children represent their experience iconically while adults tend to use a symbolic mode of representation. (Author/SET) (22pp.)

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