Is a picture worth a thousand words? Not for young children

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- For an adult, a picture might be worth a thousand words, but to an infant or young child, it that may not always be the case.

A new study found that young children preferred and paid more attention to sounds than to visual images when they were presented simultaneously.

While other studies have shown that infants preferred sounds over visual information, this is the first to show that this auditory preference extends to preschoolers with an average age of 4 years.

"Adults generally prefer visual information if they have the choice. But if you want to get the attention of young children, sounds are generally more effective than pictures if the sounds and pictures have equal interest," said Vladimir Sloutsky, professor in the Center for Cognitive Science at Ohio State University.

Sloutsky said young children probably are more attuned to sounds than visuals because this auditory preference helps them acquire language.

Sloutsky, who is also associate dean of research for the university's College of Human Ecology, co-authored the study with Amanda Napolitano, a graduate student at Ohio State. Their research appears in the current (May/June 2003) issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers conducted several

Contact: Vladimir Sloutsky
Ohio State University

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