Children’s memory for events involving animates and inanimates
Mercer, Mackenzie L.
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Past research that has examined adult’s attention and memory for the animate/inanimate distinction has supported the animate monitoring hypothesis: that humans are predisposed to attend to and remember animate objects better than inanimate objects. Although research has found that young children can distinguish between animate and inanimate objects, children’s memory for animate/inanimate objects has not been examined. It is also not known whether children’s memory for specific types of animate objects differs, as some animates such as insects seem to be conceptualized in a less animate way. To examine children’s memory for animate and inanimate objects, and various animate objects, 4- and 5-year-old children were recruited from daycares in Regina and the surrounding area. Participants viewed an action sequence that contained either a clear animate (dog), an ambiguous animate (beetle), or an inanimate (lego block), and were then asked to imitate the sequence. Findings showed that children in the dog condition had superior memory than children in the inanimate condition, congruent with adult research and that children in the beetle condition had intermediate memory, indicating ambiguity as to the status of this object. The results of this study provide general support for the animate monitoring hypothesis, and has implications for enhancing children’s learning through animacy in course curriculums.