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The effect of perceptual similarity and linguistic input on children's acquisition of object labels

  • GIL DIESENDRUCK (a1) and MARILYN SHATZ (a1)

Abstract

This study investigated whether and when children establish various semantic relations between old and new words. Fifty two-year-olds were taught labels for objects previously referred to by an overextended term. We found that children were more likely to learn a new label when (a) it referred to a new object that was perceptually dissimilar, rather than similar, to a known one, and (b) when linguistic information indicated it had an inclusion, rather than a mutually exclusive, relation to a known label. Children were more likely to interpret a new label as mutually exclusive to a known one when their referents were perceptually dissimilar. These findings are discussed in light of theories of lexical development, particularly with regard to conceptualizations of constraints on the acquisition of word meaning.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Gil Diesendruck, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA.

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This research was partly supported by a Fellowship from the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies of the University of Michigan to the first author. We wish to thank the children, teachers and staff of the University of Michigan Children's Center, and the parents and children who came to the Language Laboratory. We would also like to thank Alicia Baturoni, Thahn Bui, Sushmita Ghose, Kim Lebowitz and Netta Shaked for assistance with data collection; and Susan Gelman for comments on an earlier version of part of this work.

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The effect of perceptual similarity and linguistic input on children's acquisition of object labels

  • GIL DIESENDRUCK (a1) and MARILYN SHATZ (a1)

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