Procedure for Assessing Categorization in Young Infants

In the familiarization/novelty-preference method of testing for categorization, infants are presented with a number of different instances from the same category during a familiarization period. Infants are then administered a paired presentation of a novel instance of the familiar category and a novel instance from a novel category. If infants generalize their familiarization to the novel exemplar of the familiar category, and display a preference for a novel exemplar from a novel category, and this pattern of looking cannot be attributed to an a priori preference or to an inability to discriminate among the familiar category exemplars, then it can be concluded that a representation of the familiar category exemplars has been formed. That is, one can infer that the familiar exemplars have in some manner been grouped together or categorized and that the representation of this category excludes the noninstance—the novel category exemplar. The procedure relies on the established preference that infants display for novel stimulation (Fantz, 1964; Slater, 1995).

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