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Doll Shoes and Cognitive Development
Cinderella's stepsisters tried to squeeze their feet into the famed, tiny glass slipper because they wanted to marry Prince Charming. But how do you explain the actions of normally developing young children who attempt to squeeze their feet into doll shoes, climb into toy cars, slip down tiny slides, or sit in teensy chairs?
Judy DeLoache and colleagues report in the 14 May 2004 issue of the journal Science that children who perform these "scale errors" fail to use visual information about object size when they attempt to perform impossible actions on miniature chairs, cars, shoes and slides.
This kind of research may help to unravel human cognitive development, a time-intensive process that yields an apparently boundless and effortless variety of skills and flexible learning abilities. Scale errors may reflect temporary problems with the integration of visual information for perception and action, according to the authors who note that older children and adults don't make scale errors.
The scientists report a total of 40 scale errors performed by 25 of the 54 children in the study.
View videos of toddlers of various ages displaying scale-error perception (video courtesy of Judy S. DeLoache):
21-months: This 21-month-old child has committed a scale error by attempting to slide down a miniature slide. (6 MB, 15 seconds)
24-months: This 24-month-old child has opened the door to the miniature car and is repeatedly trying to force his foot inside the car. (16 MB, 39 seconds)
28-months: This 28-month-old child is looking between his legs to precisely locate the miniature chair that he is in the process of sitting on. (11 MB, 28 seconds)
14 May 2004