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ERIC Number: EJ1112330
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Sep
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Generics License 30-Month-Olds' Inferences about the Atypical Properties of Novel Kinds
Graham, Susan A.; Gelman, Susan A.; Clarke, Jessica
Developmental Psychology, v52 n9 p1353-1362 Sep 2016
We examined whether the distinction between generic and nongeneric language provides toddlers with a rapid and efficient means to learn about kinds. In Experiment 1, we examined 30-month-olds' willingness to extend atypical properties to members of an unfamiliar category when the properties were introduced in 1 of 3 ways: (a) using a generic noun phrase ("Blicks drink ketchup"); (b) using a nongeneric noun phrase ("These blicks drink ketchup"); and (c) using an attentional phrase ("Look at this"). Hearing a generic noun phrase boosted toddlers' extension of properties to both the model exemplars and to novel members of the same category, relative to when a property had been introduced with a nongeneric noun phrase or an attentional phrase. In Experiment 2, properties were introduced with a generic noun phrase, and toddlers extended novel properties to members of the same-category, but not to an out-of-category object. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that generics highlight the stability of a feature and foster generalization of the property to novel within-category exemplars.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: HD36043