Preschoolers' Perspective Taking in Word Learning: Do They Blindly Follow Eye Gaze?

Nurmsoo, Erika and Bloom, Paul (2008) Preschoolers' Perspective Taking in Word Learning: Do They Blindly Follow Eye Gaze? Psychological Science, 19 (3). pp. 211-215. ISSN 0956-7976. (doi: (Full text available)

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When learning new words, do children use a speaker’s eye gaze because it reveals referential intent? We conducted two experiments that addressed this question. In Experiment 1, the experimenter left while two novel objects were placed where the child could see both, but the experimenter would be able to see only one. The experimenter returned, looked directly at the mutually visible object, and said either, "There’s the [novel word]!" or "Where’s the [novel word]?" Two- through 4-year-olds selected the target of the speaker’s gaze more often on there trials than on where trials, although only the older children identified the referent correctly at above-chance levels on trials of both types. In Experiment 2, the experimenter placed a novel object where only the child could see it and left while the second object was similarly hidden. When she returned and asked, ‘‘Where’s the [novel word]?’’ 2- through 4-year-olds chose the second object at above chance levels. Preschoolers do not blindly follow gaze, but consider the linguistic and pragmatic contextwhen learning a new word.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Erika Nurmsoo
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2012 18:05 UTC
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2016 15:58 UTC
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