Fuzzy trace theory posits that during development the use of verbatim information for solving transitive relationships shifts to the use of gist information. In cognitive developmental research that uses a cross-sectional design, the binomial mixture model is often used to identify such shifts. Because the binomial mixture model assumes equal task difficulty and uses the number of correctly solved tasks for data analysis, it may be too restrictive and the more flexible latent class model is adopted as an alternative. This model allows varying task difficulty and uses the pattern of task scores as input for data analysis. The binomial mixture model and the latent class model are compared theoretically, and applied to transitive reasoning test data obtained from a cross-sectional sample of 615 children. The latent class model is found to be more appropriate for identifying multiple phases. Three phases are distinguished which can be interpreted well by means of fuzzy trace theory. These phases do not encompass fixed age periods.

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Multivariate Behavioral Research
Department of Psychology