When is a high thing the big one?

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Conducted 7 experiments with nursery school children aged 3 yrs to 5 yrs 11 mo (N = 279). It was found that a semantic factor called top point exerted increasing influence with age on children's definitions of big, tall, and high, as shown in their increasing inaccuracy in answering questions about the tallness and bigness of figures and increasing accuracy in answering questions about height. Movement of figures up and down increased the influence of top point. The age changes are explained by a hypothesized growing tendency for children to use top point as a perceptual category for the analysis of situations of lexical usage. The effects of movement lead to a description of lexical items as having semantic factors of varying psychological weights that could be systematically affected by context. (17 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-375
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1974
Externally publishedYes


  • semantic factors & age, definition of "big" & "tall" & "high" concepts, 3-5 yr olds


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