Seeing behind the surface: communicative demonstration boosts category disambiguation in 12-month-olds
Kovács, Á.M. and Téglás, E. and Gergely, G. and Csibra, Gergely (2016) Seeing behind the surface: communicative demonstration boosts category disambiguation in 12-month-olds. Developmental Science , ISSN 1363-755x.
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In their first years, infants acquire an incredible amount of information regarding the objects present in their environment. While often it is not clear what specific information should be prioritized in encoding from the many characteristics of an object, different types of object representations facilitate different types of generalizations. We tested the hypotheses that 1-year-old infants distinctively represent familiar objects as exemplars of their kind, and that ostensive communication plays a role in determining kind membership for ambiguous objects. In the training phase of our experiment, infants were exposed to movies displaying an agent sorting objects from two categories (cups and plates) into two locations (left or right). Afterwards, different groups of infants saw either an ostensive or a non-ostensive demonstration performed by the agent, revealing that a new object that looked like a plate can be transformed into a cup. A third group of infants experienced no demonstration regarding the new object. During test, infants were presented with the ambiguous object in the plate format, and we measured generalization by coding anticipatory looks to the plate or the cup side. While infants looked equally often towards the two sides when the demonstration was non-ostensive, and more often to the plate side when there was no demonstration, they performed more anticipatory eye movements to the cup side when the demonstration was ostensive. Thus, ostensive demonstration likely highlighted the hidden dispositional properties of the target object as kind-relevant, guiding infants’ categorization of the foldable cup as a cup, despite it looking like a plate. These results suggest that infants likely encode familiar objects as exemplars of their kind and that ostensive communication can play a crucial role in disambiguating what kind an object belongs to, even when this requires disregarding salient surface features.
|Additional Information:||This is the peer reviewed version of the article, which has been published in final form at the link above. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.|
|School:||Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences|
|Research Centre:||Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)|
|Depositing User:||Gergely Csibra|
|Date Deposited:||16 Nov 2016 10:36|
|Last Modified:||02 Dec 2016 11:12|
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