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Dimension Preference and Component Selection: Alternative Measures of Children's Attention to Stimulus Components NICHD

Hale, Gordon A.; Lipps, Leann E. T.
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, Attention, Classification, Developmental Psychology, Dimensional Preference, Perceptual Development, Young Children


As children grow older they show an increasing preference for classifying objects on the basis of shape rather than color. To clarify the nature of this "dimension preference," children of ages 3 l/2 to 6 1/2 years were given a method of triads test of dimension preferences, followed (after a week's delay) by a component selection task. The most notable results were these: (1) Children below and above the median age differed in frequency of shape preference; (2) For children below the median age, higher component selection test scores were observed for the preferred dimension; and (3) No age difference was found in the relative magnitudes of the component selection scores. The results suggest that a "preference" for a particular dimension does not necessarily indicate a high degree of selective attention to that dimension. Also, the age difference in children's dimension preferences may be attributable to factors unrelated to selective attention. (Author) (16pp.)

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