NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1018688
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jan
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0305-0009
That's Not What You Said Earlier: Preschoolers Expect Partners to be Referentially Consistent
Graham, Susan A.; Sedivy, Julie; Khu, Melanie
Journal of Child Language, v41 n1 p34-50 Jan 2014
In a conversation, adults expect speakers to be consistent in their use of a particular expression. We examine whether four-year-olds expect speakers to use consistent referential descriptions and whether these expectations are partner-specific. Using an eye-tracking paradigm, we presented four-year-olds with arrays of objects on a screen. During training, Experimenter 1 (E1) used a target expression to identify one object (i.e. "the 'spotted' dog" to identify a dog that is both spotted and fluffy). Following training, either E1 or a new conversational partner (E2) presented children with test trials. Here, the target objects were referred to using either the original expression (e.g. "the 'spotted' dog") or a new expression (e.g. "the 'fluffy' dog"). Eye-movements indicated that preschoolers were quicker to identify the target referent when the original expression was used by the same speaker. This suggests that four-year-olds, like adults, expect communicative partners to adhere to referential pacts.
Cambridge University Press. The Edinburgh Building, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge, CB2 8RU, UK. Tel: 800-872-7423; Tel: 845-353-7500; Tel: +44-1223-326070; Fax: 845-353-4141; Fax: +44-1223-325150; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A