Connecting the dots: children's use of a systematic figure to facilitate mapping and search.

D. H. Uttal*, V. H. Gregg, L. S. Tan, M. H. Chamberlin, A. Sines

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Organizing locations into a systematic figure was predicted to facilitate children's use of spatial relations in a mapping task. In Study 1, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds used a map to find a sticker hidden under 1 of 27 locations. The search locations formed a systematic figure, the outline of a dog. Half of the children were shown that the locations formed a dog. Seeing the dog pattern facilitated the performance of 5-year-olds but not that of the younger children. Study 2 indicated that children had to see a systematic figure to gain an advantage; adding lines to an unsystematic figure did not convey an advantage. Study 3 indicated that a verbal label alone could not convey an advantage. Study 4 revealed that seeing the dog pattern could also facilitate performance when the map was rotated relative to the represented space. The importance of organizing spatial information to facilitate relational thinking and mapping is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-350
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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