Children’s representations of another person’s spatial perspective: Different strategies for different viewpoints?

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Abstract

The current study investigated development and strategy use of spatial perspective taking (i.e., the ability to represent how an object or array of objects looks from other viewpoints) in children between 8 and 12 years of age. We examined this ability with a task requiring children to navigate a route through a model city of wooden blocks from a 90° and 180° rotated perspective. We tested two hypotheses. First, we hypothesized that children’s perspective-taking skills increase during this age period and that this process is related to a co-occurring increase in working memory capacity. Results indeed showed clear age effects; accuracy and speed of perspective-taking performance were higher in the older age groups. Positive associations between perspective-taking performance and working memory were observed. Second, we hypothesized that children, like adults, use a mental self-rotation strategy during spatial perspective taking. To confirm this hypothesis, children’s performance should be better in the 90° condition than in the 180° condition of the task. Overall, the results did show the reversed pattern; children were less accurate, were slower, and committed more egocentric errors in the 90° condition than in the 180° condition. These findings support an alternative scenario in which children employ different strategies for different rotation angles. We propose that children mentally rotated their egocentric reference frame for 90° rotations; for the 180° rotations, they inverted the left–right and front–back axes without rotating their mental position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-73
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume153
Early online date28 Sept 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

Funding

This work was supported by the Curious Minds program ( www.talentenkracht.nl ), supported by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and the National Platform Science & Technology (Grants C2P2_VU and C4P2_VU ). We thank Daan Joosen and Chiara Spruijt for their assistance with the data collection.

FundersFunder number
Curious Minds program
Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science
National Platform Science & TechnologyC4P2_VU

    Keywords

    • Children
    • Development
    • Inverting strategy
    • Mental self-rotation
    • Spatial perspective taking
    • Strategy use

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