Beyond early linguistic competence : development of children's ability to interpret adjectives flexibly
Gao, Helena Hong
Zelazo, Philip David
Date of Issue2014
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
We investigated the circumstances in which 3- to 5-year-old children can and cannot interpret adjectives flexibly. In Experiment 1, children were required to interpret big and little both in reference to a basic level kind (e.g., “This is a big marble”) and in reference to a superordinate kind (e.g., “This is a little toy”). Experiment 2 examined 3-year-olds’ flexible interpretation of big and little with respect to a medium-sized stimulus that was alternately compared with a smaller stimulus and a larger stimulus (e.g., “Which one of these two circles is the big one?”). Even the youngest children switched between interpretations when the switch was accompanied by a change in the stimulus display. When the stimulus display remained constant, however, younger children typically perseverated on a single interpretation. Results replicate evidence of the roots of flexible adjective interpretation but also show protracted development of the ability to coordinate two incompatible interpretations of a single situation.
© 2014 Elsevier Inc. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by Cognitive Development, Elsevier Inc. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cogdev.2014.08.003].