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Volume 10 Issue 5 (September 2007), Pages 513-711

Developmental changes in information central to artifact representation: evidence from ‘functional fluency’ tasks (pages 538-546)


Research suggests that while information about design is a central feature of older children's artifact representations it may be less important in the artifact representations of younger children. Three experiments explore the pattern of responses that 5‐ and 7‐year‐old children generate when asked to produce multiple uses for familiar (Experiments 1, 2) and novel (Experiment 3) named objects. Results showed that while older children tended to produce responses based on the known design function of the object, younger children's responses were more flexible, though still constrained by the mechanical structure of the object. Only when ignorant of a novel object's design function did older children produce more varied functions than did younger children. These results suggest that representations supporting object function undergo change across this period of development, with information about design assuming more importance later than it does earlier.

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