The Influence of Co-Occurrence and Inheritance Information on Children's Inductive Generalization


Prior research suggests young children understand that labels serve as category markers and they can utilize this information to perform category-based induction with both identical and semantically-similar labels (Gelman & Markman, 1986). Recent research suggests that children’s ability to perform category-based induction is limited to a small subset of semantically-similar labels which co-occur in child-directed speech (Fisher, 2010; Fisher, Matlen, & Godwin, in press). However, most of the co-occurring labels used in prior research are not only semantically-similar but they also refer to baby-parent relationships (e.g., puppy-dog). Thus, children may be able to perform induction with these particular label-pairs, because they contain kinship information rather than because they co-occur. The present study aims to disentangle whether young children’s induction performance is driven by kinship information or co-occurrence probability. Results indicate that 4-year-olds’ induction performance was influenced by co-occurrence probability; kinship information was found to be insufficient to promote induction performance.

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