Relational Language Helps Children Reason Analogically

Abstract

This paper explores the role of relational language in the development of children’s analogical reasoning ability. In two experiments, children were asked to make a relational mapping between two pictures while ignoring a competing object match. Three-and-a-half-year-olds, 5½-year-olds, and 7-year-olds were all more successful at this task when they heard relational language. Experiment 2 further demonstrated that children were as good at finding the relational match with an object match present if they heard relational language as they were when there was no compelling object match present at all. These results suggest that relational language may be important in instilling the ability to reason analogically.


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