Towards a Complete Commonsense Theory of Motion: The Interaction of Dimensions in Children's Predictions of Natural Object Motion
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Events involving motion in fall are differentiated psychologically from events involving horizontal motion. Do children associate motion down inclines more with motion along horizontals or more with motion in fall, or do they even treat it as an integration of the two? The question was raised over 20 years ago but never satisfactorily answered, so the principal aim of the reported research was to take matters forward. Children (n = 144) aged 5 to 11 years were assessed while predicting natural dynamic events along a horizontal, in fall, and down an incline. They were required to make predictions of speed with heavy and light balls and under changes in incline heights. The results show that, consistent with previous work, faster horizontal motion was associated with the light ball across all ages whereas faster fall was associated with the heavy ball. However, while the younger children predicted faster incline motion for the lighter ball, there was a shift in this conception towards older children predicting faster motion for the heavier ball. Understanding of how changes in incline height affect speed was generally good, with this aspect of the study helping to establish how children perceive diagonal dimensions. How supported horizontal motion and unsupported fall motion may affect children's changing understanding of incline motion is discussed, thus providing more complete insight into children's understanding of natural object motion than has been established so far.
DOI : 10.1080/09500693.2011.604685