Ensemble Perception of Size in 4- to 5-Year-Old Children

Exploring Early Childhood Development

Our Partnership

In collaboration with the University of California - Berkeley, the University of Denver undertook research that explores how children aged 4-5 years experience and understand groups of objects. The project sought to include multidisciplinary perspectives as we work to understand the complexities of human development. 

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About the Project

Groups of objects are a constant feature of day-to-day life, and we know that adults are able to use ensemble-coding mechanisms to summarize a general sense of a group's overall appearance at a glance. In this project, we worked to understand how these ensemble-coding processes work in children aged 4-5 years.

To explore this question, the children viewed a pair of trees, with each containing a group of differently-sized oranges, and were asked to make an evaluation of their size. Results indicated that children use similar processes as adults, but that the mechanisms that drive such processes are not as sensitive as those in adults.

Timothy Sweeny

Tim Sweeny is an associate professor at the University of Denver's department of psychology within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. His research centers on visual perception and the cognitive and neurological mechanisms that help human beings interpret their surroundings and form impressions of the world. He frequently collaborates with clinical psychologists to advance knowledge of how visual perception affects individuals with autism spectrum disorder and anxiety.