Evidence of a transition from perceptual to category induction in 3- to 9-year-old children

Julia Badger, Laura Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined whether inductive reasoning development is better characterized by accounts assuming an early category bias versus an early perceptual bias. We trained 264 children aged 3 to 9 years to categorize novel insects using a rule that directly pitted category membership against appearance. This was followed by an induction task with perceptual distractors at different levels of featural similarity. An additional 52 children were given the same training followed by an induction task with alternative stimuli. Categorization performance was consistently high, however we found a gradual transition from a perceptual bias in our youngest children to a category bias around age 6-7. In addition, children of all ages were equally distracted by higher levels of featural similarity. The transition is unlikely to be due to an increased ability to inhibit perceptual distractors. Instead, we argue that the transition is driven by a fundamental change in children’s understanding of category membership.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-146
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of experimental child psychology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Badger, J & Shapiro, L, 'Evidence of a transition from perceptual to category induction in 3- to 9-year-old children', Journal of experimental child psychology, vol. 113, no. 1 (2012) DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2012.03.004


  • development
  • induction
  • perceptual
  • category
  • rReasoning
  • children


Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence of a transition from perceptual to category induction in 3- to 9-year-old children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this