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Functions, forms and feps : how infants use language to learn about artifacts Joshi, Anjula

Abstract

Two experiments investigated the influence of object labels and perceptual similarity in 18- month-olds' inductive inferences within the domain of artifact kinds. In Experiment 1, infants learned structure-dependent functions of training objects, and were presented with test objects that varied in perceptual similarity. When objects were labeled with an adjective or were not labeled, infants generalized functions to perceptually similar test objects, but when objects were labeled with a count noun, infants generalized functions to all test objects, regardless of perceptual similarity. In Experiment 2, we found a different pattern emerge with structureindependent functions. Infants generalized these functions to other objects, but perceptual similarity, count noun labels, and adjective labels did not affect performance. These results suggest that 18-month-olds differentiate count nouns from adjectives, and only count, nouns refer to kinds, override perceptual similarity and guide inductive inferences about structure-dependent functions.

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