Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Douglas A. Behrend

Committee Member

Denise Beike

Second Committee Member

Scott Eidelman


Psychology, Categorization, Conventional, Information, Priviledged


Categorization is an essential part of our daily lives and an integral part of humans’ ability to function and interact within society. There are large bodies of research that document children’s categorization in domains such as natural kinds, artifacts and human kinds. One domain that has not been investigated is children’s ability to categorize different types of information; specifically conventional information, shareable to others with no restrictions, and privileged information, shareable to only a few. Study 1 investigated 4- and 5-year-olds and adults’ ability to categorize conventional and privileged information. All participants correctly categorized both types of information equally well at above chance levels, though each older age group performed significantly better than the younger age group. Study 2 investigated whether 4- and 6-year-old and adults categorize information by its category membership or whether the information is shared or not shared. Four-year-olds and adults categorized conventional information by its category membership and did so significantly more than 6-year-olds. There was no pattern of responses to the categorization for privileged information by participants in any age group. Though this ability develops with age, by the age of 4 children are able to distinguish between and identify conventional and privileged information. There appears to be a U-shaped curve of development for categorizing conventional information by its category membership, which is not apparent in the categorization of privileged information.