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Get your facts right : preschoolers systematically extend both object names and category-relevant facts

Holland, Amanda K.; Mather, Emily; Simpson, Andrew; Riggs, Kevin J.


Amanda K. Holland

Andrew Simpson


There is an ongoing debate over the extent to which language development shares common processing mechanisms with other domains of learning. It is well-established that toddlers will systematically extend object labels to similarly-shaped category exemplars (e.g., Landau, Smith, & Jones, 1988; Markman & Hutchinson, 1984). However, previous research is inconclusive as to whether young children will similarly extend factual information about an object to other category members. We explicitly contrast facts varying in category relevance, and test for extension using two different tasks. Three- to four-year-olds (N = 61) were provided with one of three types of information about a single novel object: a category-relevant fact (‘it’s from a place called Modi’), a category-irrelevant fact (‘my uncle gave it to me’), or an object label (‘it’s called a Modi’). At test, children provided with the object name or category-relevant fact were significantly more likely to display systematic category extension than children who learnt the category-irrelevant fact. Our findings contribute to a growing body of evidence that the mechanisms responsible for word learning may be domain-general in nature.


Holland, A. K., Mather, E., Simpson, A., & Riggs, K. J. (2016). Get your facts right : preschoolers systematically extend both object names and category-relevant facts. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(JUL),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 29, 2016
Online Publication Date Jul 19, 2016
Publication Date Jul 19, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 7, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Frontiers in psychology
Electronic ISSN 1664-1078
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue JUL
Keywords Cognitive development, Language development, Word learning, Categorization, Extension, Domain general
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Additional Information Copy of article published in Frontiers in psychology, 2016, v.7.


Published article (1.2 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2016 Holland, Mather, Simpson and Riggs. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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