How toddlers and preschoolers learn to uniquely identify referents for others: a training study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This training study investigates how children learn to refer to things unambiguously. Two hundred twenty-four children aged 2.6, 3.6, and 4.6 years were pre- and posttested for their ability to request stickers from a dense array. Between test sessions, children were assigned to a training condition in which they (a) asked for stickers from an adult, (b) responded to an adult's requests for stickers, (c) observed 1 adult ask another for stickers, or (d) heard model descriptions of stickers. All conditions yielded improvements in referring strategies, with condition (a) being most effective. Four-year-olds additionally demonstrated learning effects in a transfer task. These results suggest that young children's communication skills develop best in response to feedback about their own attempts at reference.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Matthews, D; Lieven, E; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • November 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 78 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1744 - 1759

PubMed ID

  • 17988318

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-8624

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0009-3920

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01098.x


  • eng