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Article Dans Une Revue Frontiers in Psychology Année : 2017

Children’s Failure in Analogical Reasoning Tasks


Children's improved performance with age in analogy tasks has been explained by an increase in semantic knowledge of the items and the relations between them or by the development of an increased ability to inhibit irrelevant information. We tested the so-called "unbalanced attentional focus hypothesis" that claims that a failure to choose the "analogical" match can be the result of a difficulty to focus on all the relevant information available. Previous eye-tracking research has suggested, in analogies of the A:B::C:D format, that 5-6 year-olds organize their search around the C item. They focused significantly less than adults on the A:B pair, thereby hindering their discovering the relation(s) between A and B. We hypothesized that inducing them to focus their attention on the A:B pair at the beginning of the trial would affect their performance. In Experiment 1, increasing children's focus on the A:B pair did, indeed, lead to better performance. In contrast, in Experiment 2, focusing their attention on the A:B pair impaired performance when the most salient relation holding between A and B was, in fact, irrelevant for the analogy. By contrast, the obvious-but-irrelevant relation in the A:B pair had no negative effect on performance when no explicit A:B focusing was induced. These results are discussed in terms of the temporal organization of the task and availability of information, and of children's difficulties to disengage from the main goal of the task, when necessary.

Dates et versions

hal-01543640 , version 1 (21-06-2017)



Yannick Glady, Robert M. French, Jean-Pierre Thibaut. Children’s Failure in Analogical Reasoning Tasks: A Problem of Focus of Attention and Information Integration?. Frontiers in Psychology, 2017, 8, pp.707. ⟨10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00707⟩. ⟨hal-01543640⟩
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