The role of cues to differential absolute size in children's transitive inferences.
Wright BC., Dowker AD.
To investigate the role that "nonlogical" cues might play in transitive inference, 6- and 7-year-olds were given a three-term transitive task in which perceptual cues to differential absolute size were either present or absent. Relationships between the taught premises and the relational information that was physically present were manipulated using four basic conditions: "congruent," "inverse," "pretended," or "persuaded." Both age groups showed identical overall premise memory, but the younger group tended to reason more on the basis of the perceptual information rather than on the successfully encoded premise information. Contrasts between the various conditions showed that categorical effects can be circumvented in three-term problems with appropriate controls, that there may be qualitative as well as quantitative differences in transitive inference with age, and that transitive inference is not based solely on memory. The findings also indicate that, although 7-year-olds are competent in "logic-based" transitive inference, they experience great difficulty on tasks involving pretend information.