Comparison and Categorization in the Development of Relational Similarity

Laura Kotovsky, Dedre Gentner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

278 Scopus citations


4 experiments investigated the development of children's ability to recognize perceptual relational commonalities such as symmetry or monotonicity. In Experiment 1, 6- and 8-year-olds were able to recognize higher-order relational similarity across different dimensions (e.g., size/saturation) and across different polarities (e.g., increase/decrease), whereas 4-year-olds could recognize higher-order relational matches only when they were supported by lower-order commonalities (e.g., size/size but not size/saturation matches). Further experiments tested how the processes of comparison and categorization affected 4-year-olds' ability to recognize relational similarity. The results of the experiments supported the hypothesis that comparison and categorization processes lead to changes in children's representations of relational structure, enabling them to recognize more abstract commonalities. A computational model lent further support to the claims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2797-2822
Number of pages26
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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