Preschoolers’ Perception Of Numerosities

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Pena-Diaz, Sonia
Understanding how children perceive the concept of numbers is critical for developmental and cognitive psychologists, teachers, and even parents. This study seeks to answer whether the specific arrangement of a display affects a preschooler’s ability to identify the larger of two numerical displays. Thirty-three boys and girls with a mean age of 4 years old currently enrolled in pre-school participated in the study. Participants were shown pairs of arrays that were composed of either: individual petals in both arrays, petals grouped into flowers with both arrays having the same number of flowers, or petals grouped into flowers with both arrays having a different number of flowers. Participants were asked to identify which had the most petals. It was expected that as the complexity of the arrays increased, preschoolers’ ability to correctly identify the most numerous display would decrease. It was also expected that the size of the petals would have a stronger effect than the composition of the petals on proportion correct. There were no main effects for petal composition, number, age, or gender. There was a significant main effect for petal size and for age. This is consistent with prior research that children in this age range are in a preoperational stage of cognition and cannot easily process concepts they cannot see or touch. There was a significant interaction between petal composition and number and between petal composition and petal size. There was a significant three-way interaction among number, gender, and age and among petal composition, number, and age. There was also a four-way interaction among petal composition, size, gender, and age. Possible future studies could investigate the effects of item composition on elementary school children.