Basic level object categories support the acquisition of novel adjectives: Evidence from preschool-aged children

Raquel S. Klibanoff, Sandra R Waxman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two experiments examined 3-and 4-year-old children's ability to map novel adjectives to object properties. Sixty-four children were introduced to a target (e.g., a bumpy object), and asked to choose between (1) a matching test object (e.g., a different bumpy object), and (2) a contrasting test object (e.g., a smooth object). Four-year-olds successfully extended novel adjective from the target to the matching test object whether these objects were drawn from the same, or different, basic level categories. In contrast, 3-year-olds' extensions were more restricted. They successfully extended novel adjectives if the target and test objects were drawn from the same basic level category but failed to do so if the objects were drawn from different basic level categories (Experiment 1). However, if 3-year-olds (n = 20) were first permitted to extend a novel adjective to objects within the same basic level category, they were subsequently able to extend that novel adjective broadly to objects from different basic level categories (Experiment 2). Thus, basic level object categories serve as an initial foundation in the process of mapping novel adjectives to object properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-659
Number of pages11
JournalChild Development
Volume71
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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