Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)




J. Grayson Osborne


To acquire language, children must learn how to categorize objects on the basis of the meanings that cultures have assigned to the objects. A series of six experiments tested how preschool-aged children categorize familiar objects. Each experiment used a matching-to-sample format in which children matched pictures of familiar objects (comparisons) to a sample stimulus picture. The sample and one comparison related taxonomically (on the basis of function) from which the children were to find another stimulus that was the same as the sample. Each experiment was a systematic replication of published research and of the prior experiment. In all six experiments, these pre-school-aged children demonstrated a statistically significant preference for the taxonomic stimulus. No statistically significant differences were found between genders. The results of these six experiments did not support the development trend described in the majority of the extant literature. These findings are also contrary to the research literature, with one noted exception.

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