NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ774368
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Pages: 13
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
This Cat Has Nine Lives? Children's Memory for Genericity in Language
Gelman, Susan A.; Raman, Lakshmi
Developmental Psychology, v43 n5 p1256-1268 Sep 2007
Generic noun phrases ("Birds lay eggs") are important for expressing knowledge about abstract kinds. The authors hypothesized that genericity would be part of gist memory, such that young children would appropriately recall whether sentences were presented as generic or specific. In 4 experiments, preschoolers and college students (N = 280) heard a series of sentences in either generic form (e.g., "Bears climb trees") or specific form (e.g., "This bear climbs trees") and were asked to recall the sentences following a 4-min distractor task. Participants in all age groups correctly distinguished between generic and specific noun phrases (NPs) in their recall, even when forgetting the details of the NP form. Memory for predicate content (e.g., "climb trees") was largely unaffected by genericity, although memory for category labels (e.g., "bear") was at times better for those who heard sentences with generic wording. Overall, these results suggest that generic form is maintained in long-term memory even for young children and thus may serve as the foundation for constructing knowledge about kinds.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A