The Shape Bias Shapes More Than Just Attention: Relationships Between Categorical Biases & Object Recognition Memory

Haley VlachUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States

Abstract

The “shape bias” describes the finding that, starting around 24 months of age, children generalize object categories based upon shape to a greater degree than other perceptual features. To date, research on the shape bias has consisted of debates about how attentional mechanisms engender the development of the shape bias. The current work moves beyond theoretical explanations grounded in attention processes and examines potential consequences of the shape bias in memory processes. In this experiment, children and adults’ memory performance for features of objects was examined in relation to their categorical biases. The results of the experiment demonstrated that, across the lifespan, learners with a shape bias were more likely to remember the shape of objects than they were the color and size. Taken together, this work suggests the development of a shape bias may lead to more than just differences in attention to features of objects, but a memory bias for shape information.

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