PREFERENCES FOR COMMON WORDS, UNCOMMON WORDS AND NON-WORDS BY CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS

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Abstract

In the first experiment, groups of 6–7-year-old, 10–11-year-old and 18–20-year-old subjects were presented with aesthetic choices between common words and unfamiliar non-words. All groups displayed a preference for real words but this tendency was significantly more pronounced in the intermediate age group than in either the younger or the older groups. In the second experiment, a group of 18–21-year-old subjects displayed a significant preference for uncommon words over common words, while groups of 7-year-old and 9–10-year-old subjects overwhelmingly preferred the common words. These results indicate an inverted-U function relating familiarity and liking, and this provides a parsimonious interpretation of the preferences of subjects of all ages.

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