The development of directional understanding in three- to five-year-old children
Stansky, Stephanie Lenae
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Endogenous orienting occurs when a meaningful cue, such as an arrow, is used to direct attention toward a peripheral target. Adults and children as young as four years of age respond faster to a target that is cued by a central arrow than to an uncued target. However, the nature of the understanding of the arrow by young children is not well understood. Young children may look in the proper direction based on the “weighted” nature of the arrow, or the fact that an arrow is perceptually “heavier” on one side than the other. If this is the case, then young children do not necessarily need to understand the symbolic nature of an arrow in order to direct attention to a target. In this project, three- to five-year-old children were tested using various centrally located arrow cues to test the hypothesis that as development progresses, there is also a progression of understanding of arrow cues from a perceptual to a symbolic understanding. The results did not support the hypothesis, but future research must be done to investigate the understanding that young children have of important directional cues such as arrows.