When seeing is knowing: The role of visual cues in the dissociation between children’s rule knowledge and rule use

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Organisational units


The Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS) task requires children to switch from sorting cards based on shape or color to sorting based on the other dimension. Typically, 3-year-olds perseverate, whereas 4-year-olds flexibly sort by different dimensions. Zelazo and colleagues (1996, Cognitive Development, 11, 37-63) asked children questions about the postswitch rules and found an apparent dissociation between rule knowledge and rule use, namely that 3-year-olds demonstrate accurate knowledge of the postswitch rules despite sorting cards incorrectly. Here, we show that children's success with these questions is grounded in their use of available visual cues; children who fail sorting use the target cards to correctly answer questions, and when the cards are unavailable they guess. This suggests that there might not be a dissociation between children's rule knowledge and rule use in the DCCS.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-569
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


    Research areas

  • Executive function, Rule use, Dimensional Change Card Sort, Rule knowledge, Knowledge-Action

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