Infants’ Attention to and Use of Functional Properties in Categorization
This chapter explores the development of infants' attention to object function and how function is used by infants in categorizing objects. It proposes a developmental progression wherein infants attend first to the structural properties of objects, then to both structural and functional properties, and finally to the correlation between structural and functional properties. Data is presented showing that infants are capable of categorizing objects based on structural properties prior to categorizing based on functional properties, and that infants treat functional properties of objects as more central to category membership than structural properties. Finally, the chapter reviews findings that infants' attention to structure-function correlations is initially ‘atheoretical’ and only later conforms to the kinds correlations found in the real world. The ages at which any changes are observed will depend on how categorization is assessed and the kinds of objects that infants are categorizing.
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