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ERIC Number: EJ1140181
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-May
Pages: 27
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0305-0009
Finding Meaning in a Noisy World: Exploring the Effects of Referential Ambiguity and Competition on 2-5-Year-Olds' Cross-Situational Word Learning
Bunce, John P.; Scott, Rose M.
Journal of Child Language, v44 n3 p650-676 May 2017
While recent studies suggest children can use cross-situational information to learn words, these studies involved minimal referential ambiguity, and the cross-situational evidence overwhelmingly favored a single referent for each word. Here we asked whether 2-5-year-olds could identify a noun's referent when the scene and cross-situational evidence were more ambiguous. Children saw four trials in which a novel word occurred with four novel objects; only one object consistently co-occurred with the word across trials. The frequency of distracter objects varied across conditions. When all distracter referents occurred only once (no-competition), children successfully identified the noun's referent. When a high-probability competitor referent occurred on three trials, children identified the target referent if the competitor was absent on the third trial (short-competition) but not if it was present until the fourth trial (long-competition). This suggests that although 2-5-year-olds' cross-situational learning scales up to more ambiguous scenes, it is disrupted by high-probability competitor referents.
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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