Sampling to learn words: Adults and children sample words that reduce referential ambiguity
- Martin Zettersten, Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States
- Jenny Saffran, Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States
AbstractHow do learners gather new information during word learning? We present evidence that adult learners will choose to receive additional training on object-label associations that reduce ambiguity about reference during cross-situational word learning. This ambiguity-reduction strategy is related to improved test performance. We find mixed evidence that children (4-8 years of age) show a similar preference to seek information about words experienced in ambiguous word learning situations. In an initial experiment, children did not preferentially select object-label associations that remained ambiguous during cross-situational word learning. However, this may be explained by some children having relatively high certainty about object-label associations for which they did not see evidence disconfirming their initial hypothesis. In a second experiment that increased the relative ambiguity of two sets of novel object-label associations, we found evidence that children preferentially make selections that reduce ambiguity about novel word meanings.
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