British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 34 Issue 4 (November 2016), Pages 471-597

The development of spatial category representations from 4 to 7 years (pages 555-568)

Representation of spatial categories was assessed in 4‐ to 7‐year‐olds. Across nine spatial categories (In, On, Under, In Front, Behind, Above, Below, Left, and Right), children were asked to pick the odd‐one‐out from four images, three of which displayed the same spatial relationship between two objects, and one which showed a different spatial relationship. Results support our proposed model of spatial category representation. Children progressed through three levels of understanding: from rigid (level 1), to abstract (level 2) to broad (including non‐prototypical category exemplars) (level 3) understanding of spatial category membership. This developmental pattern was common to all spatial categories, and the ages at which children reached each level varied across categories, in line with the order in which category representations emerge in infancy.

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