What's in a Shape? Children Represent Shape Variability Differently Than Adults When Naming Objects

Maurissa Abecassis, Maria D Sera, Albert Yonas, Jennifer Schwade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Children and adults often generalize a word to objects of the same shape. However, the shape properties on which generalization is based are unknown. We investigated the degree to which two shape dimensions were represented categorically by children and adults when learning names for objects. Multidimensional scaling techniques were used to establish the perceptual similarity of two sets of objects in Experiment 1. In Experiments 2 and 3, children (from 2;8 to 4;5 years of age) and adults participated in two tasks in which they learned a novel name for an exemplar. We then examined how often the novel name was generalized to different objects and to line drawings of the objects. In one task, participants generalized the names from memory; in a second task the exemplar was in front of the participant during generalization. Adults accepted names more often to objects that fell "within" the proposed shape boundaries than to objects that fell "across" the boundaries. Children, however, were just as likely to generalize names to novel objects that fell within as to objects that crossed the boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-239
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume78
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

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Names
Learning
Generalization (Psychology)

Keywords

  • Naming
  • Object identification
  • Object recognition
  • Semantic development
  • Shape bias
  • Shape similarity

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What's in a Shape? Children Represent Shape Variability Differently Than Adults When Naming Objects. / Abecassis, Maurissa; Sera, Maria D; Yonas, Albert; Schwade, Jennifer.

In: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Vol. 78, No. 3, 01.01.2001, p. 213-239.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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