VISUAL EXPLORATORY BEHAVIOR OF DOWN'S SYNDROME CHILDREN
ALTER, MARK MELVIN
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This research was designed to investigate the visual exploratory behavior of Down's Syndrome children towards both social and nonsocial stimuli. Fifty-two children ranging in age from two to eight years were exposed to two contrasting types of visual stimuli: Miller's adaptation of Berlyne's six dimensions of complexity, and five sets of relatively familiar social stimuli (the child's own photograph, the child's mother, the child's teacher, a stranger, and a chimpanzee). To study exploration of the nonsocial stimuli, children were leveled for age, and then randomly assigned either to a condition where they were first exposed, and thereby familiarized with relatively simple stimuli which were subsequently paired with more complex stimuli, or to one of three control groups; a non familiarization condition group, or two groups combining the two conditions. For the social stimuli, children were randomly assigned to one of five groups. Members of each group were exposed to a specific social stimulus and then this familiarized stimulus was successively paired with each of the remaining social stimuli. This familiarization procedure was conducted for each of the five sets of social stimuli. Each of the five groups experienced a different sequencing of social stimuli for familiarization, but otherwise, all children experienced all of the same stimulus pairs.;The children's visual fixation patterns were videotaped and tapes were scored for direction and duration of fixation at various stimuli by specially trained optometrists. Interscorer reliability was .98.;As predicted, the analysis of data for nonsocial stimuli showed that irrespective of age, stimulus familiarization did not affect the extent of children's exploration of relatively complex designs. An exploratory analysis of the data for the children's exploratory behavior with regard to the six dimensions revealed that when conditions with respect to stimulus familiarization were ignored, more mature children tended to explore the relatively complex members of stimulus pairs in two of the six nonsocial stimulus dimensions. But in most circumstances of this aspect of the study, the children tended to avoid relatively complex stimuli, consistent with a number of earlier findings in this regard which follow from social learning theory.;Analysis of the children's exploration of the various social stimuli revealed, as predicted, and consistent with the foregoing, that irrespective of age, stimulus familiarization did not significantly affect children's exploration of relatively novel social stimuli. However, examination of the data did show differences among the children as a function of which social stimulus was familiarized and which were the contrasted social stimuli. Furthermore, the data suggested a systematic quality to exploration among the children.;Among the implications drawn from the foregoing findings was the need for educators to seek to foster in the children a more positive attitude toward the self as a generator of information and action. Further, special education programs should be modified and adapted to encourage perceptual curiosity. In addition, various research implications were raised.