Visual Strategies in Analogical Reasoning Development: A New Method for Classifying Scanpaths

Abstract

Development of analogical reasoning is often explained by general maturation of executive functions. A consequence of the involvement of executive functions would be that children and adults differ in the visual strategies they apply when solving analogical problems. Since visual strategies can be studied by means of eye-tracking, we compared the visual scanpaths of children and adults in three different analogical reasoning tasks. This comparison was done by means of a novel technique that combined a recently developed algorithm for computing a “distance” between any pair of scanpaths (Jarodzka, Holmqvist, & Nyström, 2010), multidimensional scaling (MDS), and a neural network classifier. This analysis clearly showed a difference between adults' and children's visual strategies in solving analogy problems. We focus both on the demonstration that adults and children employ different visual search strategies to solve analogy problems and on the novel technique used to do this. This general technique complements other approaches to eye-movement analysis that rely on local properties of scanpaths, in particular, item-fixation times.


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