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The Effect of Pictorial Integration on Children's Incidental Learning NICHD

Hale, Gordon A.; Piper, Richard A.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Age Differences, Developmental Psychology, Incidental Learning, Learning, Pictorial Stimuli


Evidence regarding children's incidental learning has been derived largely from tasks in which the incidental stimulus features have been independent of the task-relevant information. The present study examined children's incidental learning with compound pictorial stimuli under conditions in which the relevant and incidental features were: (a) depicted together in an action relation: (b) depicted together in a static relation: or (c) represented as independent entities. Those materials were compared in two experiments, one involving 8- 11- and 14-year-old children and the other involving 8-, and 14-year-olds (the static condition was excluded in the second experiment). Following a learning task requiring attention to a single element in each stimulus, incidental learning was measured by having the Ss in effect, reconstruct one compounds. While incidental learning was found to be higher with the action materials than in the standard condition, the developmental trend in incidental learning scores was little affected by the pictorial integration. On one hand, these results extended the generality of the finding that children's incidental learning undergoes little change with age. On the other hand, the results contrast with evidence obtained from two sources--one showing that stimulus integration of another type can influence the developmental trend in incidental learning and the other showing an increase with age in the effects of action portrayal on international (paired associate) learning of pictorial associations. (Author/KM) (16pp.)

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