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J Exp Child Psychol. 2007 Oct;98(2):69-93. Epub 2007 Jun 29.

Hold your horses: how exposure to different items influences infant categorization.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


We investigated how exposure to pairs of different items (as compared with pairs of identical items) influences 10-month-olds' (n=79) categorization of horses versus dogs in an object-examining task. Infants responded to an exclusive category when familiarized with pairs of different items but not when familiarized with pairs of identical items (Experiment 1), even when the frequency of exposure to each item was controlled (Experiment 2). When familiarized with pairs of identical items, infants failed to show evidence of memory for the individual exemplars (Experiment 3). Reducing the retention interval between presentations of different items in the identical pairs condition facilitated infants' recognition of an exclusive categorical distinction (Experiment 4). These results are discussed in terms of how exposure to collections of different items, and how opportunities to compare items, influences infants' categorization.

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