Can Actions Represent Relations?

Abstract

This paper is exploring alternative ways of representation of relations to be used effectively in a transitive mapping task. In the experiment described in the paper children had to map the 3 animals on their side to the 3 animals on the experimenter’s side in terms of relative size. In all conditions physical objects “draw-bars” were used to connect the animals on each side. The draw-bars represent the relation “stronger than” in a physical way. However, in two conditions the draw-bars were lacking directions and thus there was no physical representation of the direction (who is stronger than whom). In the third condition the draw-bars ended with pointer on one side and thus physically represented the direction of the relation. In the second condition the direction of the relation was represented by a physical action (pulling) preformed both by the experimenter and the child on the animal. The results showed that both the motor action and the pointed draw-bars improved children’s performance, thus actions can successfully replace physical objects in representing relations.


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