ERIC Number: EJ1131784
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Beyond Naïve Cue Combination: Salience and Social Cues in Early Word Learning
Yurovsky, Daniel; Frank, Michael C.
Developmental Science, v20 n2 Mar 2017
Children learn their earliest words through social "interaction," but it is unknown how much they rely on social "information." Some theories argue that word learning is fundamentally social from its outset, with even the youngest infants understanding intentions and using them to infer a social partner's target of reference. In contrast, other theories argue that early word learning is largely a perceptual process in which young children map words onto salient objects. One way of unifying these accounts is to model word learning as weighted cue combination, in which children attend to many potential cues to reference, but only gradually learn the correct weight to assign each cue. We tested four predictions of this kind of naïve cue combination account, using an eye-tracking paradigm that combines social word teaching and two-alternative forced-choice testing. None of the predictions were supported. We thus propose an alternative unifying account: children are sensitive to social information early, but their ability to gather and deploy this information is constrained by domain-general cognitive processes. Developmental changes in children's use of social cues emerge not from learning the predictive power of social cues, but from the gradual development of attention, memory, and speed of information processing.
Descriptors: Interaction, Social Influences, Cues, Eye Movements, Vocabulary Development, Prediction, Cognitive Processes, Developmental Stages
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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