Infants are smarter than they really know

June 17th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 17 (IANS) Infants are smart and flexible, even if they don’t realise what they’re doing, according to a new research. Results of the research showed children could be trained to choose correctly, but still didn’t know why shape or colour was the right answer in any particular context.

The findings upset a theory that says they can only show smart, flexible behaviour because they know how things work, said Vladimir Sloutsky of Ohio State University and co-author of the study.

“But what we demonstrated is that children can acquire this flexibility without this deeper knowledge, and without realising how they are being flexible,” he added.

Under the study, several groups of 4- and 5-year-olds participated in several experiments that involved a guessing game and choosing objects on a computer screen.

The game was played either in the upper right corner on the computer screen (with a yellow background) or in the lower left hand corner of the computer screen (with a green background).

They were shown one object and told it had a smiley face behind it. They then guessed which of the other two objects also had a smiley face behind it.

In each case, one of the other objects had the same colour but different shape as the original, while the other had the same shape but a different colour.

The key was that when the game was in the upper right corner of the computer screen, the smiley face was always hidden behind the same-shaped item. When the game was presented in the lower left corner, the smiley face was hidden behind the item with the same colour.

Later, during testing, these children had no trouble correctly guessing where the smiley face was hidden, even though no feedback was given during the actual test.

The findings of the study have appeared in the latest issue of the journal Child Development.

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