This research was supported by the Max Planck Institution for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. The authors thank Anna Roby, Lianne Heys, and Elizabeth Wills for helping with data collection; Siu-lin Rawlinson for drawing the story books; Tanya Behne, Franklin Chang, Malinda Carpenter, and Thomas Pechmann for helpful discussions; and the parents, teachers, and children who volunteered to participate for their enthusiasm.
How Toddlers and Preschoolers Learn to Uniquely Identify Referents for Others: A Training Study
Article first published online: 3 NOV 2007
Volume 78, Issue 6, pages 1744–1759, November/December 2007
How to Cite
Matthews, D., Lieven, E. and Tomasello, M. (2007), How Toddlers and Preschoolers Learn to Uniquely Identify Referents for Others: A Training Study. Child Development, 78: 1744–1759. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01098.x
- Issue published online: 3 NOV 2007
- Article first published online: 3 NOV 2007
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.