Colorful success: preschoolers' use of perceptual color cues to solve a spatial reasoning problem.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Spatial reasoning, a crucial skill for everyday actions, develops gradually during the first several years of childhood. Previous studies have shown that perceptual information and problem solving strategies are critical for successful spatial reasoning in young children. Here, we sought to link these two factors by examining children's use of perceptual color cues and whether their use of such cues would lead to the acquisition of a general problem solving strategy. Forty-eight 3-year-olds were asked to predict the trajectory of a ball dropped into one of three intertwined tubes. Children who received additional perceptual cues in the form of distinctly colored tubes succeeded twice as often as those who did not receive the cues. A third group of children who received the additional cues on only the first half of the test trials succeeded while the cues were present but reverted to making errors once they were removed. These findings demonstrate that perceptual color cues provide preschoolers with answers to spatial reasoning problems but might not teach children a general strategy for solving the problem.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Joh, AS; Spivey, LA

Published Date

  • December 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 113 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 523 - 534

PubMed ID

  • 22878085

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0457

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.06.012


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States