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Categorical flexibility in children: Distinguishing response flexibility from conceptual flexibility: The protracted development of taxonomic representations

Abstract : This research explored the development of children's use of multiple conceptual organizations (thematic, taxonomic) in sorting sets of pictures. Experiment 1 revealed that between 5 and 9 years, two forms of categorical flexibility can be distinguished: Response and conceptual flexibility. It appeared that children's multiple sorts do not necessarily reflect the use of different conceptual organizations. Such lag was mainly due to a difficulty of access to taxonomic representations, specifically in the younger age groups. Therefore, Experiment 2 investigated the development of taxonomic representations using an original approach requiring participants to decide whether new items could be included into an existing taxonomic sort. This approach showed that taxonomic representations were only gradually differentiated from thematic- and perceptual ones over the 5 to 10 years period. The discussion raises new hypotheses about the interaction between developing executive control (specifically, increasing resistance to interference of irrelevant information) and increasing conceptual knowledge in accounting for the development of conceptual flexibility.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00188551
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Agnès Blaye, Véronique Bernard-Peyron, Jean-Louis Paour, Françoise Bonthoux. Categorical flexibility in children: Distinguishing response flexibility from conceptual flexibility: The protracted development of taxonomic representations. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2006, 3 (2), pp.163-188. ⟨10.1080/17405620500412267⟩. ⟨hal-00188551⟩

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