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Road-safety education: spatial decentering and subjective or objective picture processing

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The current study examined children's ability to analyse pictures of a risky situation, both in relation to the characteristics of the pictures and in relation to the centering/decentering process of cognitive development. Sixty children aged 6, 9 or 11 years were given an objective or subjective version of a story about a risky situation involving road crossing and were asked to reconstruct it by putting six pictures in chronological order. The type of picture series, objective or subjective, had a different effect on the children's understanding and performance, according to the age. The older children were better at ordering the pictures, but on the subjective version only. The picture-version effect on planning time decreased with age; only the younger children took more time to start touching the pictures. On one hand, it is concluded that for the youngest children, objective representations are essential to analysing pictures showing a risk, whereas the oldest children will profit more from a subjective view. On the other hand, subjective representations, which give a more realistic view, provide an excellent tool for testing children's abilities. Subjective representations can be used to detect potentially risky behaviour in virtual situations (static pictures, or multimedia tools), since it permits one to predict at-risk behaviour in the street and to assess the effectiveness of remedial measures.
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Keywords: Child pedestrian education; Cognitive development; Decentering; Learning from pictures; Picture integration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Language, Memory & Cognitive Development Laboratory, University of Poitiers and CNRS, Poitiers Cedex, France

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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