Photographs and Pictures

Children's Understanding of Photographs

Main researchers: Katy Donnelly (PhD Student), Prof. Bruce M. Hood

Collaborators: Dr. Nathalia Gjersoe

We have been exploring how children of between 2 to 5 years of age understand pictorial representations, such as photographs. In particular, we are interested in how children perceive the link between a picture and the object it represents. One way of investigating this is to see what happens if children watch as a picture of an object is changed - do they expect the object itself to be changed, too?

We have found that younger children do tend to make mistakes about objects after they have seen changes made to their pictures, as if they see the photograph and the object as linked together. However, by around 4 years of age children start to pass on these kinds of tasks, which suggests that they have developed a better understanding of how pictures “work” by this age. We are currently looking into what makes the task more difficult for younger children.