A comparison of complementary and taxonomic utilization: Significance of the dependent measure

Marcia S. Scott, Daryl B. Greenfield, Richard C. Urbano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Preschool children's utilization of complementary relations (e.g., environmental associates such as bird-nest, dog-bone) and taxonomic relations (e.g., items related categorically such as two or more fruit) was compared using three response measures that varied the task demands placed on the child. These three response measures were: generating a related verbal response to a single picture study card; selecting the one of two choice pictures that was related to the study pictures; justifying the picture choice selected. For one set, the correct response was related taxonomically to the study picture. For the second set, a correct response formed a complementary pair with the study picture. Based on a conceptual analysis of the task, it was argued that picture choice would be less demanding for the child than justification of the picture choice which in turn would be less demanding than generating an appropriate pair. It was predicted that as task demands increased performance would decrease for both complementary and taxonomic pairing. More importantly, functionally and perceptually available complementary pairs should be maintained at progressively higher levels relative to more abstract and hierarchically related taxonomic pairs. In addition, as task demands increase, complementary intrusions should produce one source of systematic error in the taxonomic condition. The results supported these predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-256
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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