Mandler, J. M. & McDonough, L. (2000).
Advancing downward to the basic level. Journal of Cognition and
Development,1, 379-403.


In three experiments we studied whether infants and young children
understand various basic-level conceptual distinctions in the domains
of household artifacts, animals, and vehicles. Using little replicas,
we modeled events such as washing dishes in a sink for children aged
14, 19, and 24 months, and then gave them an exemplar from the same
basic-level concept (another sink) and an exemplar of another concept
from the same domain (bathtub). We measured which objects they used to
imitate the event. Fourteen-month-olds did not differentiate among
basic-level categories in any of these domains, for example, washing
dishes in both a tub and a sink, and putting both a rabbit and a bird
in a nest. By 19 months inappropriate behavior was greatly reduced for
household artifacts and for vehicles, but not for animals. By 24 months
performance was mainly appropriate for all three domains. It was also
shown that although 14-month-olds are not making many conceptual
distinctions at the basic level, nevertheless they are beginning to
make some broader conceptual distinctions among artifacts.

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