• The development and robustness of young children’s understanding of aspectuality

      Waters, Gillian M.; Beck, S.R. (2009-05)
      We investigated whether 6-year-olds’ understanding of perceptual aspectuality was sufficiently robust to deal with the presence of irrelevant information. A total of 32 children chose whether to look or feel to locate a specific object (identifiable by sight or touch) from four objects that were hidden. In half of the trials, the objects were different on only one modality (e.g., four objects that felt different but were the same color). In the remainder of the trials, the objects also differed (partially) on one irrelevant modality (e.g., four objects that felt different, two red and two blue, where the goal was to locate the soft object). Performance was worse on the latter trials. We discuss children’s difficulty in dealing with irrelevant information.
    • The dynamics of category conjunctions

      Hutter, R.R.C.; Crisp, R.J.; Humphreys, G.W.; Waters, Gillian M.; Moffitt, G. (2009)
      In three experiments we investigated the dynamics of impression formation when perceivers encounter unsurprising (e.g. male mechanic) versus surprising (e.g. female mechanic) social category conjunctions. In Experiment 1, participants took longer to form an impression of targets described using a surprising versus an unsurprising conjunction of categorizations. In Experiment 2, we investigated the stages during which impressions of category conjunctions are formed. While unsurprising category combinations were characterized with reference to ‘constituent’ stereotypic traits, surprising combinations were characterized initially by stereotypic traits but later by ‘emergent’ impressions. In Experiment 3, we investigated motivational states that drive the dynamics of category conjunction. We found that higher Personal Need for Structure (PNS) predicted the use of more emergent and fewer constituent attributes in the impressions formed of surprising combinations. Across all three experiments, more ‘causal attributes’ were used in descriptions of the surprising combination. We discuss the implications of these findings for developing a model of the dynamics and composition of social category conjunctions.
    • How should we question young children's understanding of aspectuality?

      Waters, Gillian M.; Beck, S.R. (2012-09)
      In two experiments, we investigated whether 4- to 5-year-old children's ability to demonstrate their understanding of aspectuality was influenced by how the test question was phrased. In Experiment 1, 60 children chose whether to look or feel to gain information about a hidden object (identifiable by sight or touch). Test questions referred either to the perceptual aspect of the hidden object (e.g., whether it was red or blue), the modality dimension (e.g., what colour it was), or the object's identity (e.g., which one it was). Children who heard the identity question performed worse than those who heard the aspect or dimension question. Further investigation in Experiment 2 (N= 23) established that children's difficulty with the identity question was not due to a problem recalling the objects. We discuss how the results of these methodological investigations impact on researchers’ assessment of the development of aspectuality understanding.
    • Mothers’ and fathers’ views on the importance of play for their children’s development: gender differences, academic activities, and the parental role

      Waters, Gillian M.; Tidswell, Georgina R.; Bryant, Eleanor J. (Wiley, 2022-05)
      Background: Play is a main driver of children’s cognitive and social development and is crucial for educational success (Ginsburg, 2007). In recent years however, parents and schools are under pressure to prioritise academic targets over play. Aims: The current research investigated parents’ views about three aspects of their children’s play and academic activities. Sample: Predominantly highly educated UK parents (109 mothers and 49fathers) were recruited via social media. Method: Participants were asked to complete an amended online version of the Preschool Play and Learning Questionnaire (Parmar, Harkness, & Super, 2004). The questionnaire consisted of 25 items covering three themes: the importance of play for children’s development, the importance of academic activities, and the importance of parents’ role in their children’s development. The independent variables were the gender of the parent, the gender of their child, and the age group of their child (4 to 7 years, or 8 to 11 years). Results: Parents rated play higher than academic activities or their own roles, but the difference was not noteworthy. However, fathers rated academic activities and the parents’ role significantly higher than mothers did. In addition, parents of girls rated academic activities and their own role, significantly higher than parents of boys. Conclusions: The findings of the current research highlight gender divisions between parents and towards boys and girls regarding the importance of education. Gender roles appear to influence the way parents think about the academic activities their children partake in.
    • Understanding the mother-infant bond

      Milne, Elizabeth; Johnson, Sally E.; Waters, Gillian M.; Small, Neil A. (2018-09)
    • Verbal Information Hinders Young Children's Ability to Gain Modality Specific Knowledge

      Waters, Gillian M.; Beck, S.R. (2015-10-02)
      In two experiments, we investigated whether having prior experience of objects influenced young children's ability to solve a metacognitive search task, based on the objects' perceptual properties. In Experiment 1, 100 children (mean age 77months) chose whether to look or feel to locate one of two hidden balls (identifiable by sight or touch). Before choosing, children were told about the balls' perceptual properties (i.e. their colour and feel'), and/or saw and touched them, or had no pre-trial experience of them at all. Children who only had self-directed contact with the balls performed best, but children who heard the objects described by an adult performed relatively poorly. In Experiment 2, 116 children (mean age 72months) either heard only relevant, relevant and irrelevant, or no information about the objects before completing the task. Verbal descriptions of the balls (whether or not they contained irrelevant information) caused children difficulties.