The representations underlying infants' choice of more: object files versus analog magnitudes

Psychol Sci. 2002 Mar;13(2):150-6. doi: 10.1111/1467-9280.00427.


A new choice task was used to explore infants' spontaneous representations of more and less. Ten- and 12-month-old infants saw crackers placed sequentially into two containers, then were allowed to crawl and obtain the crackers from the container they chose. Infants chose the larger quantity with comparisons of 1 versus 2 and 2 versus 3, but failed with comparisons of 3 versus 4, 2 versus 4, and 3 versus 6. Success with visible arrays ruled out a motivational explanation for failure in the occluded 3-versus-6 condition. Control tasks ruled out the possibility that presentation duration guided choice, and showed that presentation complexity was not responsible for the failure with larger numbers. When crackers were different sizes, total surface area or volume determined choice. The infants 'pattern of success and failure supports the hypothesis that they relied on object-file representations, comparing mental models via total volume or surface area rather than via one-to-one correspondence between objectfiles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Orientation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Problem Solving*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Size Perception*