The kindergarten-path effect revisited: children’s use of context in processing structural ambiguities

WEIGHALL, A. R. (2007). The kindergarten-path effect revisited: children’s use of context in processing structural ambiguities. Journal of experimental child psychology, 99, p. 75.

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    Link to published version:: 10.1016/j.jecp.2007.10.004

    Abstract

    Research with adults has shown that ambiguous spoken sentences are resolved efficiently, exploiting multiple cues—including referential context—to select the intended meaning. Paradoxically, children appear to be insensitive to referential cues when resolving ambiguous sentences, relying instead on statistical properties intrinsic to the language such as verb biases. The possibility that children’s insensitivity to referential context may be an artifact of the experimental design used in previous work was explored with 60 4- to 11-year-olds. An act-out task was designed to discourage children from making incorrect pragmatic inferences and to prevent premature and ballistic responses by enforcing delayed actions. Performance on this task was compared directly with the standard act-out task used in previous studies. The results suggest that young children (5 years) do not use contextual information, even under conditions designed to maximize their use of such cues, but that adult-like processing is evident by approximately 8 years of age. These results support and extend previous findings by Trueswell and colleagues (Cognition (1999), Vol. 73, pp. 89–134) and are consistent with a constraint-based learning account of children’s linguistic development.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Copyright © Elsevier Inc
    Research Institute, Centre or Group: Psychology Research Group
    Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jecp.2007.10.004
    Depositing User: Ann Betterton
    Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2009
    Last Modified: 21 Dec 2010 11:30
    URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/109

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