Young children create partner-specific referential pacts with peers.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In 2 studies, we investigated how peers establish a referential pact to call something, for example, a cushion versus a pillow (both equally felicitous). In Study 1, pairs of 4- and 6-year-old German-speaking peers established a referential pact for an artifact, for example, a woman's shoe, in a referential communication task. Six-year-olds, but not 4-year-olds, continued to use these same expressions with the same partner (even when they were overinformative) but shifted to simpler expressions, for example, shoe, with a new partner. In Study 2, both age groups were successful in establishing such partner-specific referential pacts with a peer when using a proper name. These results suggest that even preschool children appreciate something of the conventional nature of linguistic expressions, with significant flexibility emerging between ages 4 and 6.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Köymen, B; Schmerse, D; Lieven, E; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • October 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 50 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 2334 - 2342

PubMed ID

  • 25181649

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25181649

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-0599

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0012-1649

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/a0037837


  • eng