Preschoolers' understanding of the arrow as a directional indicator
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Arrows are very commonly used as directional indicators for both adults and children. Research has found that children are cued to look faster when cued by valid vs. invalid arrow. Yet, for such a common directional symbol, it is still largely unknown how children understand this directional indicator. They may be using the symbolic meaning of the arrow, or perhaps children are cued by more perceptual aspects like the visual weight of the arrow. This study presented children with 10 various arrow stimuli that differed in direction and distribution of weight. We asked children to use the arrow cue to find a hidden animal and recorded their eye movements as they were exposed to the various stimuli. Our results indicated that children 3 years and older were cued to look to the side indicated by the weight of the arrow but not to the side indicated by the direction. Children younger than 3 years of age were not cued by the weight or the direction of the arrow. These findings are consistent with past research on this topic and may have implication for the understanding of abstract symbols in general, such as written language.