The role of verbal labels in attention to dimensional similarity


In general, young children focus on holistic similarity and older children focus on dimensional similarity (selectively attending to one property, such as brightness, to the exclusion of others, such as size). Research on early word learning, however, suggests the process of learning words trains attention to category-relevant dimensions. We ask: does word learning scaffold dimensional attention more generally? By showing labels support dimensional attention, these results clarify the processes involved in similarity perception and unify our understanding of attentional processes in word learning with those in a broader context.

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