The role of comparison in preschoolers' novel object categorization

Susan A. Graham*, Laura L. Namy, Dedre Gentner, Kristinn Meagher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


We examined the role of the comparison process and shared names on preschoolers' categorization of novel objects. In our studies, 4-year-olds were presented with novel object sets consisting of either one or two standards and two test objects: a shape match and a texture match. When children were presented with one standard, they extended the category based on shape regardless of whether the objects were named. When children were presented with two standards that shared the same texture and the objects were named with the same noun, they extended the category based on texture. The opportunity to compare two standards, in the absence of shared names, led to an attenuation of the effect of shape. These findings demonstrate that comparison plays a critical role in the categorization of novel objects and that shared names enhance this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-290
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Categorization
  • Comparison
  • Labels
  • Naming
  • Novel object categories
  • Shape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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