Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-55b6f6c457-hjh89 Total loading time: 0.219 Render date: 2021-09-26T23:25:38.017Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Learning words from speakers with false beliefs*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 June 2016

ANNA PAPAFRAGOU*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, University of Delaware
SARAH FAIRCHILD
Affiliation:
Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, University of Delaware
MATTHEW L. COHEN
Affiliation:
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Delaware
CARLYN FRIEDBERG
Affiliation:
Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions
*
Address for correspondence: Anna Papafragou, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark DE 19716. e-mail: sarahcfairchild@gmail.com

Abstract

During communication, hearers try to infer the speaker's intentions to be able to understand what the speaker means. Nevertheless, whether (and how early) preschoolers track their interlocutors' mental states is still a matter of debate. Furthermore, there is disagreement about how children's ability to consult a speaker's belief in communicative contexts relates to their ability to track someone's belief in non-communicative contexts. Here, we study young children's ability to successfully acquire a word from a speaker with a false belief; we also assess the same children's success on a traditional false belief attribution task. We show that the ability to consult the epistemic state of a speaker during word learning develops between the ages of three and five. We also show that false belief understanding in word-learning contexts proceeds similarly to standard belief-attribution contexts when the tasks are equated. Our data offer evidence for the development of mind-reading abilities during language acquisition.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

[*]

This research was supported in part by NSF grant BCS-0641105 to A. P. and by Science and Engineering Scholarships awarded by the University of Delaware Undergraduate Research Office to C. F. and M. C. The authors wish to thank Laurie Yarzab, Kendra Goodwin, Taraneh Mojaverian, Alice Ding, Yun Choi, Angela Yung, Dimitris Skordos, and Ann Bunger for their help.

References

Baldwin, D. A. (1993). Early referential understanding: infants’ ability to recognize referential acts for what they are. Developmental Psychology 29, 832–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bannard, C. & Tomasello, M. (2012). Can we dissociate contingency learning from social learning in word acquisition by 24-month-olds? PLoS ONE 7, e, 49881.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A. M. & Frith, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a ‘theory of mind?’ Cognition 21, 3746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bergen, L. & Grodner, D. J. (2012). Speaker knowledge influences the comprehension of pragmatic inferences. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 38, 1450–60.Google ScholarPubMed
Birch, S. A. J., Vauthier, S. A. & Bloom, P. (2008). Three- and four-year-olds spontaneously use others’ past performance to guide their learning. Cognition 107, 1018–34.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bloom, P. (2000). How children learn the meaning of words. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Breheny, R. (2006). Communication and folk psychology. Mind and Language 21, 74107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Breheny, R., Ferguson, H. & Katsos, N. (2013). Taking the epistemic step: toward a model of on-line access to conversational implicatures. Cognition 126, 423–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buttelmann, D., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M. (2009). Eighteen-month-old infants show false belief understanding in an active helping paradigm. Cognition 112, 337–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carpenter, M., Call, J. & Tomasello, M. (2002). A new false belief test for 36-month-olds. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 20, 393420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chandler, M., Fritz, A. S. & Hala, S. (1989). Small scale deceit: deception as a marker of 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds’ early theories of mind. Child Development 60, 1263–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clements, W. & Perner, J. (1994). Implicit understanding of belief. Cognitive Development 9, 377–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Csibra, G. & Gergely, G. (2009). Natural pedagogy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13(4), 148–53.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
de Marchena, A., Eigsti, I. M., Worek, A., Ono, K. E. & Snedeker, J. (2011). Mutual exclusivity in autism spectrum disorders: testing the pragmatic hypothesis. Cognition 119, 96113.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Diesendruck, G. & Markson, L. (2001). Children's avoidance of lexical overlap: a pragmatic account. Developmental Psychology 37, 630–41.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Epley, N., Morewedge, C. K. & Keysar, B. (2004). Perspective taking in children and adults: equivalent egocentrism but differential correction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 40, 760–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Garnham, W. A. & Ruffman, T. (2001). Doesn't see, doesn't know: Is anticipatory looking really related to understanding of belief? Developmental Science 4, 94100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grice, P. (1989). Studies in the way of words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Happé, F. & Loth, E. (2002). ‘Theory of mind’ and tracking speakers’ intentions. Mind and Language 17, 2436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Houston-Price, C., Goddard, K., Séclier, C., Grant, S., Reid, C., Boyden, L. & Williams, R. (2011). Tracking speakers’ false beliefs: Is theory of mind available earlier for word learning? Developmental Science 14, 623–34.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Huang, Y. T. & Snedeker, J. (2009). Semantic meaning and pragmatic interpretation in five-year olds: evidence from real time spoken language comprehension. Developmental Psychology 45, 1723–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jaswal, V. K. & Neely, L. A. (2006). Adults don't always know best: preschoolers use past reliability over age when learning new words. Psychological Science 17, 757–8.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Koenig, M. A. & Echols, C. H. (2003). Infants’ understanding of false labeling events: the referential role of words and the speakers who use them. Cognition 87, 179208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Koenig, M. A. & Harris, P. (2005). Preschoolers mistrust ignorant and inaccurate speakers. Child Development 76, 1261–77.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Koos, O., Gergeley, G., Csibra, G. & Biro, S. (1997). Why eating Smarties makes you smart: understanding false belief at the age of 3. Poster presented at the Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, DC, April.Google Scholar
Mitchell, P., Robinson, E. J. & Thompson, D. E. (1999). Children's understanding that utterances emanate from minds: using speaker belief to aid interpretation. Cognition 72, 4566.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nadig, A. S. & Sedivy, J. C. (2002). Evidence of perspective-taking constraints in children's on-line reference resolution. Psychological Science 13, 329–36.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Noveck, I. (2001). When children are more logical than adults: experimental investigations of scalar implicatures. Cognition 78, 165–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nurmsoo, E. & Bloom, P. (2008). Preschoolers’ perspective taking in Label: Do they blindly follow eye gaze? Psychological Science 19, 211–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Onishi, K. H. & Baillargeon, R. (2005). Do 15-month-old infants understand false beliefs? Science 308, 255–8.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Papafragou, A. & Musolino, J. (2003). Scalar implicatures: experiments at the semantics–pragmatics interface. Cognition 86, 253–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Perner, J., Rendi, B. & Garnham, A. (2007). Objects of desire, thought, and reality: problems of anchoring discourse referents in development. Mind and Language 22, 475513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rakoczy, H., Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2009). Young children's selective learning of rule games from reliable and unreliable models. Cognitive Development 24, 61–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robinson, E. J. & Mitchell, P. (1992). Children's interpretation of messages from a speaker with a false belief. Child Development 62, 639–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robinson, E. J. & Mitchell, P. (1994). Young children's false belief reasoning: interpretation of messages is no easier than the classic task. Developmental Psychology 30, 6772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robinson, E. J. & Nurmsoo, E. (2009). When do children learn from unreliable speakers? Cognitive Development 24, 1622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roth, D. & Leslie, A. (1991). The recognition of the attitude conveyed by an utterance: a study of preschool and autistic children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 9, 315–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rubio-Fernández, P. & Geurts, B. (2013). How to pass the false-belief task before your fourth birthday. Psychological Science 24, 2733.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sabbagh, M. A. & Baldwin, D. A. (2001). Learning words from knowledgeable versus ignorant speakers: links between preschoolers’ theory of mind and semantic development. Child Development 72, 1054–70.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Saylor, M. M. & Troseth, G. L. (2006). Preschoolers use information about speakers’ desires to learn new words. Cognitive Development 21, 214–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Southgate, V., Chevallier, C. & Csibra, G. (2010). Seventeen-month-olds appeal to false beliefs to interpret others’ referential communication. Developmental Science 16, 907–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Southgate, V., Senju, A. & Csibra, G. (2007). Action anticipation through attribution of false belief by two-year olds. Psychological Science 18, 587–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sperber, D. (2000). Metarepresentations in an evolutionary perspective. In Sperber, D. (ed.), Metarepresentations: a multi-disciplinary perspective (pp. 116–37). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Sullivan, D. & Winner, E. (1993). Three-year-olds’ understanding of mental states: the influence of trickery. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 56, 135–48.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Surian, L., Caldi, S. & Sperber, D. (2007). Attribution of beliefs to 13-month-old infants. Psychological Science 18, 580–6.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2007). Helping and cooperation at 14 months of age. Infancy 11, 271–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wellman, H. M., Cross, D. & Watson, J. (2001). A meta-analysis of theory of mind development: the truth about false belief. Child Development 72, 655–84.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wilson, D. (2000). Metarepresentations in linguistic communication. In Sperber, D. (ed.), Metarepresentations: a multi-disciplinary perspective (pp. 411–48). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Wimmer, H. & Perner, J. (1983). Beliefs about beliefs: representation and constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children's understanding of deception. Cognition 13, 103–28.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
7
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Learning words from speakers with false beliefs*
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Learning words from speakers with false beliefs*
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Learning words from speakers with false beliefs*
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *