Concrete and abstract concepts in school age children

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Caramelli, Nicoletta
Setti, Annalisa
Maurizzi, Donatella D.
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De Gruyter Open
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The aim of this study is to highlight what kind of information distinguishes abstract and concrete conceptual knowledge in different aged children. A familiarity-rating task has shown that 8-year-olds judged concrete concepts as very familiar while abstract concepts were judged as much less familiar with ratings increasing substantially from age 10 to age 12, according to literature showing that abstract terms are not mastered until adolescence (Schwanenflugel, 1991). The types of relation elicited by abstract and concrete concepts during development were investigated in an association production task. At all considered age levels, concrete concepts mainly activated attributive and thematic relations as well as, to a much lesser extent, taxonomic relations and stereotypes. Abstract concepts, instead, elicited mainly thematic relations and, to a much lesser extent, examples and taxonomic relations. The patterns of relations elicited were already differentiated by age 8, becoming more specific in abstract concepts with age.
Conceptual knowledge , Development
Caramelli, N., Setti, A. and Maurizzi, D.D. (2004) 'Concrete and abstract concepts in school age children', Psychology of Language and Communication, 8(2), pp. 19-34.