Learning words from pictures: 15- and 17-month-old infants appreciate the referential and symbolic links among words, pictures, and objects

Kathleen Geraghty*, Sandra R. Waxman, Susan A. Gelman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

This experiment was designed to clarify the referential status of infants' newly learned words. We introduced 15- and 17-month-olds to a novel noun, presented in conjunction with pictures of two whisks that differed in color (one purple, one orange). We asked whether infants would extend this newly learned noun to other members of the same kind (other whisks), one differing only in color (a picture of a silver whisk) and another differing in both color and representational medium (a real three-dimensional silver whisk). Fifteen- and 17-month-olds' interpretation of the novel noun was not tethered tightly to the perceptual features with which the word had previously been paired. Instead, their interpretation was sufficiently abstract to include a new member of the same object category, although it differed in color and representational medium (a real silver whisk). Thus, by 15 months, infants appreciate the referential status of words and extend their meaning flexibly from pictures to objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive Development
Volume32
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2014

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Conceptual development
  • Developmental theories
  • Infants
  • Learning from pictures
  • Representation
  • Symbolic development
  • Word learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this