Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar
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Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

Do 9-month-old Infants Expect Distinct Words to Refer to Kinds?

Kathryn Dewar


Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

“Imagine a language with only proper names. A new word that names a dog must refer to that particular dog and nothing else. Learning this language would require the ability to track individuals over time, but it wouldn’t require any ability to generalize, to recognize how collies are different from terriers or how dogs are different from tables.

Such languages don’t exist, of course.”

(Bloom, 2000)


Early words proper names or count nouns

Early Words:Proper Names or Count Nouns?

  • Proper names such as Fido refer to specific individuals

  • Count nouns such as dog refer to kinds of individuals or object categories

  • Controversial issue:

    • Whether infants interpret these early words as count nouns that refer to kinds or as proper names that refer to individual objects

  • What is the assumption of an early word-learner?

    • Does this word refer to THAT (individual) object? (PN)

    • Does this word refer to that KIND of object? (CN)


Are early words proper names that designate individuals

Are Early Words Proper Names that Designate Individuals?

  • Locke:

    • At this early stage, children know only proper names

  • Anecdotal Evidence:

    • Only own rubber ducky is called duck ( label is not generalized to other members of the kind “duck”)


Are early words count nouns that refer to kinds

Are Early Words Count Nouns that Refer to Kinds?

  • There are 3 lines of research used to support this claim:

    • Generalization Studies

    • Categorization Studies

    • Object Individuation Studies

  • While these studies are suggestive, ambiguity remains


  • Are early words count nouns that refer to kinds generalization studies

    Are Early Words Count Nouns that Refer to Kinds?Generalization Studies

    • Will a newly learned word for an object be extended to other members of the object’s kind?

    • Woodward, Markman, & Fitzsimmons (1994)

      • 13-month-olds & 18-month-olds

      • Children heard a new label 9 times in a 5 min training session & their comprehension was later assessed

      • Children generalized this newly learned label to novel exemplars of the training category

      • Generalized to objects that differed in colour

      • What about younger children?


    Are early words count nouns that refer to kinds categorization studies

    Are Early Words Count Nouns that Refer to Kinds?Categorization Studies

    • Does labeling objects with novel nouns highlight object categories?

    • Balaban & Waxman (1997)

      • 9-month-olds

    “A RABBIT”


    Are early words count nouns that refer to kinds categorization studies1

    Are Early Words Count Nouns that Refer to Kinds?Categorization Studies

    • Does labeling objects with novel nouns highlight object categories?

    • Balaban & Waxman (1997)

      • 9-month-olds

    • Familiarized to slides of animals (rabbits) while hearing either labeling information (word condition) or tones (tone condition)

    • On test trials, a new exemplar from the familiar category (a rabbit) was paired with a novel animal (a pig)

    • Infants in the word condition showed greater attention to novelty

    • It seems that the noun label facilitated categorization


    A brief detour object individuation studies

    A Brief Detour…Object Individuation Studies

    • The process that assigns segregated objects seen on different occasions to single or multiple objects.

      • Example: You see a dog at the park. The dog runs into the woods and a while later, a dog runs out of the woods

        Did you see the same dog or two different dogs???

    -OR-


    Object individuation studies xu carey 1996

    Object Individuation StudiesXu & Carey (1996)

    Occluder opened to reveal…

    UNEXPECTED

    EXPECTED

    -OR-


    Object individuation studies xu carey 19961

    Object Individuation StudiesXu & Carey (1996)

    • 10-month-olds: did not look longer at the unexpected vs. the expected outcome

      • Did not use PROPERTY/KIND information to conclude there was two distinct objects involved

    • 12-month-olds: looked longer at the unexpected vs. the expected event

      • Did use PROPERTY/KIND information for object individuation


    Back on track are early words count nouns that refer to kinds object individuation studies

    Back on Track…Are Early Words Count Nouns that Refer to Kinds?Object Individuation Studies

    • Canlanguage assist infants in the task of object individuation?

      • Xu (2002):

        • 9-month-olds

        • What if the objects were given distinctive noun labels with each emergence?


    Object individuation studies xu 2002

    Object Individuation StudiesXu (2002)

    “Look, a DUCK!”

    “Look, a BALL!”

    Occluder opened to reveal…

    EXPECTED

    UNEXPECTED

    -OR-


    Are early words count nouns that refer to kinds object individuation studies

    Are Early Words Count Nouns that Refer to Kinds?Object Individuation Studies

    • Xu (2002)

      • Infants succeed at 9 months if given contrastive labels

      • Giving the objects noun labels facilitates object individuation

    • Xu suggests that the reason language helps is because distinct words refer to different KINDS of things

      • 2 distinct noun labels = 2 kinds of objects

      • But, the evidence is also consistent with the “early words as proper names” hypothesis


    Early words pns or cns remaining questions from the previous research

    Early Words: PNs or CNs?Remaining questions from the previous research…

    • Did infants interpret the distinct words as referring to distinctkindsof objects (TYPES) or distinctindividualobjects (TOKENS)

    • Do they expect:

      • 2 objects (could be identical, as long as there’s 2)

      • 2 different objects(different in property? Or kind?)

    • These are the very questions we address in the current set of studies


    The interactive bit what are adults expectations

    The Interactive Bit:What are Adults Expectations?

    “I see a ZAV!

    I see a ZAV!”

    ???


    The interactive bit what are adults expectations1

    The Interactive Bit:What are Adults Expectations?

    “I see a FEP!

    I see a WUG!”

    ???


    Study 1

    Study 1

    Questions to be addressed….

    • Do infants expect distinct labels refer to different objects?

      -AND-

    • Do infants expect one repeated label refers to identical objects

    “I see a ZAV!”

    “I see a ZAV!”

    “I see a FEP!”

    “I see a DAK!”


    Study 1 procedure familiarizations

    Study 1 Procedure:Familiarizations

    Identical Object

    Outcome

    Different Object

    Outcome


    Study 1 procedure familiarizations1

    Study 1 Procedure:Familiarizations

    • 8 familiarization trials:4 identical object outcomes

      4 different object outcomes

    • 4 kinds of object-pairs shown:

      • Familiarization trials 5-8 are a repeat of trials 1-4

      • The 4 object-pairs presented during familiarization are presented during the test trials

      • The same object-pairs are used for both phases in order to:

        • Diminish the novelty of the object-pairs

        • Give infants a sense of what is inside the box (what they can expect to see)


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 1 Procedure:Test Trials

    “I see a FEP!I see a FEP!”

    ONE LABEL

    UNEXPECTED

    outcome

    EXPECTED

    outcome


    Study 1 procedure test trials

    Study 1 Procedure:Test Trials

    “I see a DAX!I see a WUG!”

    TWO LABELS

    UNEXPECTED

    outcome

    EXPECTED

    outcome


    Study 1 experimental design

    Study 1:Experimental Design

    TWO LABELS

    (Dax, Wug)

    ONE LABEL

    (Fep, Fep)

    IDENTICAL

    OBJECTS

    DIFFERENT

    OBJECTS


    Study 1 results familiarizations

    Study 1 Results:Familiarizations

    Identical

    Objects

    n.s.

    t (23) = -1.14, p = .27

    Different

    Objects


    Study 1 results

    Study 1: Results

    ONE LABEL

    (Fep, Fep)

    TWO LABELS

    (Dax, Wug)

    IDENTICAL

    OBJECTS

    DIFFERENT

    OBJECTS

    (n=24)


    Study 1 results1

    Study 1: Results

    ONE LABEL

    TWO LABELS

    IDENTICAL

    OBJECTS

    DIFFERENT

    OBJECTS

    t (1, 23) = -2.93, p < .01

    p = .02

    t (1, 23) = 1.13, p = .14

    p = .05

    (1 tailed)

    • No Main Effect of number of labels (one vs two)

      f (1,23) = 2.58, p = .12

    • No Main Effect of object outcome (identical vs different)

      f (1,23) = .49, p = .49

    • Interaction between number of labels & object outcome

      f (1, 23) = 5.06, p = .03

    • Paired-sample t-tests

    • Wilcoxon signed ranks test


    Study 1 what is still not yet known

    Study 1What is still not yet known…

    In this first study:

    • Pairs of objects were either identical or completely different

      • dissimilar colour, shape, texture, material, etc

    • However…

      For the different object pair:

    • Are all property differences created equal?

      • Is any dissimilarity between the “different objects” sufficient?

      • Must the objects simply be different in some respect or is the way in which the objects differ important?


    Why all property differences might not be created equal

    Why all property differences might NOT be created equal

    • Differentwords are used to designate different KINDS of things

      • Objects differing along a property dimension that does not effect kind membership are not given distinct labels

    • However, the property difference of SHAPE is closely connected with kind membership (Rosch et al., 1976; Soja, Carey & Spelke, 1991)

    • Generally speaking, objects that differ in shape are usually different kinds of things & are marked by different labels


    Predictions

    Predictions…

    • Hearing two distinct labels should suggest two different kinds of objects in the box

    • Infants will look longer to the unexpected outcomes if:

      • The property difference between the objects implies a difference in kind (e.g. SHAPE)

    • Infants will NOT look longer to the unexpected outcome if:

      • The property difference between the objects does NOT imply a difference in kind membership (e.g. COLOUR)


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 2:SHAPE


    Study 2 shape

    Study 2:SHAPE

    • Used the same procedure as Study 1, except objects were either:

      • Identical --or--

      • Identical in every property but SHAPE

    “I see a ZAV!

    I see a ZAV!”

    “I see a FEP!

    I see a WUG!”


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 2 Procedure:Test Trials

    “I see a ZAV!I see a ZAV!”

    ONE LABEL

    UNEXPECTED

    outcome

    EXPECTED

    outcome


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 2 Procedure:Test Trials

    “I see a DAX!I see a WUG!”

    TWO LABELS

    UNEXPECTED

    outcome

    EXPECTED

    outcome


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 2:Experimental Design

    TWO LABELS

    (Dax, Wug)

    ONE LABEL

    (Fep, Fep)

    IDENTICAL

    OBJECTS

    DIFFERENT

    OBJECTS


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 2 Results:Familiarizations

    Identical

    Objects

    n.s.

    t (15) = .44, p = .66

    Different

    Objects


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 2: Results

    ONE LABEL

    (Fep, Fep)

    TWO LABELS

    (Dax, Wug)

    IDENTICAL

    OBJECTS

    DIFFERENT

    OBJECTS

    (n=16)


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 2: Results

    ONE LABEL

    TWO LABELS

    IDENTICAL

    OBJECTS

    DIFFERENT

    OBJECTS

    t (15) = -2.14, p = .02

    t (15) = 2.03, p = .03

    (1 tailed)

    • No Main Effect of number of labels (one vs two)

      f (1, 15) = .47, p = .51

    • No Main Effect of object outcome (identical vs different)

      f (1, 15) = .11, p = .75

    • Interaction between number of labels & object outcome

      f (1, 15) = 8.16, p = .01

    • Paired-sample t-tests


    Study 2 shape discussion

    Study 2 (Shape):Discussion

    • Results mirrored those of the first study (replication)

    Study 1

    Study 2

    • Infants seem to expect that:

      • A distinct (repeated) label denotes identical objects

      • Two distinct labels denote two different (shaped) objects

    • Different-shaped objectspairswere equivalent to completely different object pairs


    What we still do not know

    What we STILL do not know…

    • Are all property differences created equal?

      • Shape differences between object pairs are just as good as using totally different kinds of objects

        • Shape differences are salient cues to kind membership

    • The results of the shape study are NOT enough!

      • Does not demonstrate that infants expect distinct labels to refer to distinct KINDS

        • Need to show that another property difference (that is independent of kind membership) does not elicit this pattern of looking

    • Must demonstrate that not just any property difference between the object pairs will create this result


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Returning to our Predictions…

    • Hearing two distinct labels should suggest two different kinds of objects in the box

    • Infants will look longer to the unexpected outcomes if:

      • The property difference between the objects implies a difference in kind (e.g. SHAPE)

    • Infants will NOT look longer to the unexpected outcome if:

      • The property difference between the objects does NOT imply a difference in kind membership (e.g. COLOUR)


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 3:COLOUR


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 3:COLOUR

    • Used the same procedure as previous studies, except objects were either:

      • Identical --or--

      • Identical in every property but COLOUR

    “I see a ZAV!

    I see a ZAV!”

    “I see a FEP!

    I see a WUG!”


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 3 Procedure:Test Trials

    “I see a ZAV!I see a ZAV!”

    ONE LABEL

    EXPECTED

    outcome

    UNEXPECTED?

    outcome


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 3 Procedure:Test Trials

    “I see a DAX!I see a WUG!”

    TWO LABELS

    UNEXPECTED

    outcome

    EXPECTED?

    outcome


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 3:Experimental Design

    TWO LABELS

    (Dax, Wug)

    ONE LABEL

    (Zav, Zav)

    IDENTICAL

    OBJECTS

    DIFFERENT

    OBJECTS


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 3 Results:Familiarizations

    Identical

    Objects

    n.s.

    t (15) = .92, p = .37

    Different

    Objects


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 3: Results

    ONE LABEL

    (Zav, Zav)

    TWO LABELS

    (Dax, Wug)

    IDENTICAL

    OBJECTS

    DIFFERENT

    OBJECTS

    (n=16)


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Study 3: Results

    ONE LABEL

    TWO LABELS

    IDENTICAL

    OBJECTS

    DIFFERENT

    OBJECTS

    • No Main Effect of number of labels (one vs two)

      f (1, 15) = .20, p = .66

    • Main Effect of object outcome (identical vs different) (p=.02)

      f (1, 15) = 7.61, p = .02

    • No Interaction between number of labels & object outcome

      f (1, 15) = 1.88, p = .19


    Study 3 results

    Study 3:Results

    • This pattern of results differsfrom that of Study 1 & Study 2

    Study 1

    Completely Different

    Study 2

    Shape

    Study 3

    Colour

    • Not just ANY property difference between the “different object pair” produces the expectation that the objects should be marked by distinct labels

      • A difference related to kind membership (SHAPE) produced the effect

      • A difference unrelated to kind membership (COLOUR) did not


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Returning to our Predictions Again…

    • Hearing two distinct labels should suggest two different kinds of objects in the box

    • Infants will look longer to the unexpected outcomes if:

      • The property difference between the objects implies a difference in kind (e.g. SHAPE)

    • Infants will NOT look longer to the unexpected outcome if:

      • The property difference between the objects does NOT imply a difference in kind membership (e.g. COLOUR)


    Comparing all three studies

    Comparing All Three Studies

    • Conducted a repeated-measures ANOVA with “study” as the between-subjects factor

      • There was a 3-way interaction (study X word X outcome)

    Study 1

    Completely Different

    Study 2

    Shape

    Study 3

    Colour

    • Looking only at Study 1 & Study 2:

      • No three-way interaction (Result pattern is the same)

    • Looking only at Study 1 & Study 3:

      • Three-way interaction (Result pattern is different)

    • Looking only at Study 2 & Study 3:

      • Three-way interaction (Result pattern is different)


    Familiarizations establishing possible object outcomes

    Familiarizations:Establishing Possible Object Outcomes

    • Study 1 & 2 (totally different & different-shape):

      • Object-pairs alternate between identical and different kinds

      • Possible Outcomes: either pairs of the same kind or pairs of different kinds of objects

      • Labeling a CUE to which object outcome will be revealed


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Familiarizations: Establishing Possible Object Outcomes

    • Study 3 (different colour):

      • Different-colour pairs are seen as the same kind of objects

      • Here, both identical & different-colour pairs represent the SAME kind of object

      • Possible Outcome: pairs of the same kind of object

      • Labeling adds no predictive information

      • Looking-pattern reflects baseline preferences


    Early words proper names or count nouns1

    Early Words:Proper Names or Count Nouns?

    • It’s been claimed that early nouns are:

      • Proper names (designate INDIVIDUALS)

        --as opposed to--

      • Count nouns that refer to object categories (KINDS)

    • If early labels simply pick out individuals:

      • You would not expect differential looking between identical and different object outcomes (both represent 2 individuals)

      • All three studies should have the same looking-time pattern

    • Early nouns are likely count nouns that refer to kinds


    Do 9 month old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds kathryn dewar

    Special Thanks to:

    Dr. Fei Xu

    Laura Kerlin

    Vashti Garcia

    Anjula Joshi

    Stephanie Denison

    Henny Yeung


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