NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ867437
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1363-755X
Young Children Follow Pointing over Words in Interpreting Acts of Reference
Grassmann, Susanne; Tomasello, Michael
Developmental Science, v13 n1 p252-263 Jan 2010
Adults refer young children's attention to things in two basic ways: through the use of pointing (and other deictic gestures) and words (and other linguistic conventions). In the current studies, we referred young children (2- and 4-year-olds) to things in conflicting ways, that is, by pointing to one object while indicating linguistically (in some way) a different object. In Study 1, a novel word was put into competition with a pointing gesture in a mutual exclusivity paradigm; that is, with a known and a novel object in front of the child, the adult pointed to the known object (e.g. a cup) while simultaneously requesting "the modi". In contrast to the findings of Jaswal and Hansen (2006), children followed almost exclusively the pointing gesture. In Study 2, when a known word was put into competition with a pointing gesture--the adult pointed to the novel object but requested "the car"--children still followed the pointing gesture. In Study 3, the referent of the pointing gesture was doubly contradicted by the lexical information--the adult pointed to a known object (e.g. a cup) but requested "the car"--in which case children considered pointing and lexical information equally strong. Together, these findings suggest that in disambiguating acts of reference, young children at both 2 and 4 years of age rely most heavily on pragmatic information (e.g. in a pointing gesture), and only secondarily on lexical conventions and principles.
Wiley-Blackwell. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 800-835-6770; Tel: 781-388-8598; Fax: 781-388-8232; 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