Descriptive Language and Children's Spatial Memory
Ransom, Ashley Shea
Across three studies, we explored the relationship between language about object features and children’s spatial memory. Five- to 8-year-olds constructed a 14-piece spatial configuration and then reconstructed the configuration from memory. In Study 1, children in a labeling condition (n = 23) labeled the shapes and colors of the configuration before the reconstruction task, whereas children in a no-labeling condition (n = 24) pointed to each piece in the configuration. Contrary to our hypothesis, children in the labeling condition did not remember the configuration better than children in the no-labeling condition. In Study 2, 57 children narrated while constructing the spatial configuration, and their use of shape and color words predicted their memory for the shapes and colors of the individual pieces in the configuration. In Study 3, children labeled only the shapes (n = 16), only the colors (n = 16), or both the shapes and colors (n = 15) of the spatial configuration. A no-labeling condition pointed to each piece in the configuration (n = 11). Children who labeled color remembered the configuration better than children who did not label the configuration. These studies offer insights into how language supports children’s spatial memory. We discuss the implications of these findings as well as the new questions they engender.
Developmental psychology; object features; spatial cognition; spatial language; spatial memory
Kushnir, Tamar; Kinzler, Katherine Diane
M.A., Human Development
Master of Arts
dissertation or thesis