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How we categorize objects is related to how we remember them: The shape bias as a memory bias

Haley A Vlach
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 2016, 152: 12-30
The "shape bias" describes the phenomenon that, after a certain point in development, children and adults generalize object categories based on shape to a greater degree than other perceptual features. The focus of research on the shape bias has been to examine the types of information that learners attend to in one moment in time. The current work takes a different approach by examining whether learners' categorical biases are related to their retention of information across time. In three experiments, children's (N=72) and adults' (N=240) memory performance for features of objects was examined in relation to their categorical biases. The results of these experiments demonstrated that the number of shape matches chosen during the shape bias task significantly predicted shape memory. Moreover, children and adults with a shape bias were more likely to remember the shape of objects than the color and size of objects. Taken together, this work suggests that the development of a shape bias may engender better memory for shape information.


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