Login | Register

Does mutual exclusivity guide infants’ interpretation of novel labels during categorization?


Does mutual exclusivity guide infants’ interpretation of novel labels during categorization?

Ruel, Alexa (2018) Does mutual exclusivity guide infants’ interpretation of novel labels during categorization? Masters thesis, Concordia University.

Text (application/pdf)
Ruel_MA_F2018.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only


Labeling objects during categorization tasks has been repeatedly shown to help infants categorize
objects by highlighting their commonalities. Although much work supports this label-as
category-marker hypothesis, other findings support a label-as-feature hypothesis. According to
this view, labels start as object features, and only become category markers later in childhood.
Developing in parallel, infants appear to rely on specific word learning principles based on their
linguistic experience. That is, monolingual infants have been repeatedly shown to use a
disambiguation heuristic to map novel words to novel objects. The aim of the current study was
therefore to examine how monolingual infants categorize objects in an interactive categorization
task when presented with one or two labels. Based on previous work, we hypothesized that 18
month-old monolinguals would perform significantly worse when objects were given two labels,
than when they were given a single label. We also administered a mutual exclusivity task to
examine if toddlers’ expectation of a one-to-one mapping between words and object kinds is
related to their performance on the categorization task. Unexpectedly, toddlers’ categorization
was enhanced both when objects were given one or two labels. We discuss these findings and
suggest that future work should examine the manner in which monolingual infants process a
second novel label during category formation, and if it relates to their ability for disambiguation,
through the use of eye-tracking.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Ruel, Alexa
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:9 August 2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):Poulin-Dubois, Diane
Keywords:categorization, novel labels, mutual exclusivity
ID Code:984148
Deposited By: Alexa Ruel
Deposited On:16 Nov 2018 15:30
Last Modified:02 Apr 2019 19:42


Althaus, N., & Plunkett, K. (2016). Categorization in infancy: Labelling induces a persisting
focus on commonalities. Developmental Science, 19, 770-780. doi: 10.1111/desc.12358

Balaban, M.T., & Waxman, S. R. (1997). Do words facilitate object categorization in 9-month
old infants? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 64, 3-26. doi:

Best, C. A., Robinson, C., W., and Sloutsky, V. M. (2011). The effect of labels on
categorization: Is attention to relevant features a good index of infants’ category learning?
in Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, eds L.
Carlson, C. Hölscher, and T. Shipley (Austin: Cognitive Science Society) 2751-2755.

Booth, A. E., & Waxman, S. (2002). Object names and object functions serve as cues to
categories for infants. Developmental psychology, 38, 948-957. doi: 10.1037/0012

Bosch, L., & Sebastián-Gallés, N. (1997). Native-language recognition abilities in 4-month-old
infants from monolingual and bilingual environments. Cognition, 65, 33-69.

Byers-Heinlein, K., & Werker, J. F. (2013). Lexicon structure and the disambiguation of novel
words: Evidence from bilingual infants. Cognition, 128, 407-416. doi: 10

Byers-Heinlein, K. (2017). Bilingualism affects 9-month-old infants’ expectations about how
words refer to kinds. Developmental Science, 20, 1-10. doi: 10.1111/desc.12486

Byers-Heinlein, K., & Werker, J. F. (2009). Monolingual, bilingual, trilingual: Infants' language
experience influences the development of a word-learning heuristic. Developmental
science, 12, 815-823. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2009.00902.x

Dahan, D., Swingley, D., Tanenhaus, M. K., & Magnuson, J. S. (2000). Linguistic gender and
spoken-word recognition in French. Journal of memory and Language, 42, 465-480. doi:

Deanda, S., Arias-Trejo, N., Poulin-Dubois, D., Zesigner, P., & Friend, M. (2016). Minimal
second language exposure, SES, and early word comprehension: New evidence from a
direct assessment. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 19, 162-180. doi:

Deng, W., & Sloutsky, V. M. (2012). Carrot eaters or moving heads: Inductive inference is better
supported by salient features than by category labels. Psychological Science, 23, 178- 186.
doi: 10.1177/0956797611429133

Deng, W., & Sloutsky, V. M. (2015). Linguistic labels, dynamic features, and attention in infant
category learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 134, 62-77. doi:

Dewar, K., & Xu, F. (2007). Do 9-month-old infants expect distinct words to refer to kinds?
Developmental Psychology, 43, 1227–1238. doi:10.1037/0012- 1649.43.5.1227

Fenson, L., Pethick, S., Renda, C., Cox, J. L., Dale, P. S., & Reznick, J. S. (2000). Short-from
versions of the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories. Applied
Psycholinguistics, 21, 95-115. doi: 10.1017/S0142716400001053

Ferguson, B., & Waxman, S. (2017). Linking language and categorization in infancy. Journal of
Child Langauge, 44, 527-552. doi: 10.1017/S0305000916000568

Fernald, A., Perfors, A., & Marchman, V. A. (2006). Picking up speed in understanding: Speech
processing efficiency and vocabulary growth across the 2nd year. Developmental
Psychology, 42, 98-116. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.42.1.98

Ferry, A. L., Hespos, S. J., & Waxman, S. R. (2010). Categorization in 3- and 4-month-old
infants: An advantage of words over times. Child Development, 81, 472-479.

Fulkerson, A. L., & Haaf, R. A. (2003). The influence of labels, non-labeling sounds, and source
of auditory input on 9- and 15-month-olds’ object categorization. Infancy, 4, 349-369.

Fulkerson, A. L., & Waxman, S. R. (2007). Words (but not tones) facilitate object categorization:
Evidence from 6- and 12-month-olds. Cognition, 105, 218-228. doi:

Goldfield, B.A., & Reznick, J. S. (1990). Early lexical acquisition: Rate, content, and the
vocabulary spurt. Journal of Child Language, 17, 171-183.

Graham, S. A., Kilbreath, C. S., & Welder, A. N. (2004). Thirteen-month-olds rely on shared
labels and shape similarity for inductive inferences. Child Development, 75, 409-427.

Grassmann, S., Schulze, C., & Tomasello, M. (2015). Children’s level of word knowledge
predicts their exclusion of familiar objects as referents of novel words. Frontiers in
psychology, 6,. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01200

Halberda, J. (2003). The development of a word-learning strategy. Cognition, 87, B23-B34.

Hall, D. G., Veltkamp, B. C., & Turkel, W. J. (2004). Children’s and adults’ understanding of
proper namable things. First language, 24, 5-32. doi: 10.1177/0142723704040548

Hoffman, A. B., & Rehder, B. (2010). The cost of supervised classification: The effect of
learning task on conceptual flexibility. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 139, 319-340.
doi: 10.1037/a0019042

Houston-Price, C., Caloghiris, Z., & Raviglione, E. (2010). Language experience shapes the
development of the mutual exclusivity bias. Infancy, 15, 125-150. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-

Kandhadai, P., Hall, D. G., & Werker, J. F. (2017). Second label learning in bilingual and
monolingual infants. Developmental Science, 20, 1-14. doi:10.1111/desc.12429

Mandler, J. M. (1992). How to build a baby: II. Conceptual primitives. Psychological review, 99,
587. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.99.4.587

Mandler, J. M. (2004). A synopsis of the foundations of mind: Origins of conceptual thought
(2004). New York: Oxford University Press. Developmental Science, 7, 499-505.

Mandler, J. M., & McDonough, L. (1993). Concept formation in infancy. Cognitive
development, 8, 291-318. doi: 10.1016/S0885-2014(93)80003-C

Markman, A. B., & Ross, B. H. (2003). Category use and category learning. Psychological
bulletin, 129, 592. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.129.4.592

Mervis, C. B., & Bertrand, J. (1994). Acquisition of the novel name–nameless category (N3C)
principle. Child development, 65, 1646-1662. doi: 10.2307/1131285

Namy, L. L., & Waxman, S. R. (2000). Naming and exclaiming: Infants’ sensitivity to naming
contexts. Journal of Cognition and Development, 1, 405-428.

Plunkett, K., Hu, J. F., & Cohen, L. B. (2008). Labels can override perceptual categories in early
infancy. Cognition, 106, 665-681. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2007.04.003

Poulin-Dubois, D., Graham, S., & Sippola, L. (1995). Early lexical development: The
contribution of parental labelling and infants’ categorization abilities. Journal of Child
Language, 22, 325-343. doi:10.1017/S0305000900009818

Quinn, P. C., Eimas, P. D., & Rosenkrantz, S. L. (1993). Evidence for representations of
perceptually similar natural categories by 3-month-old and 4-month-old
infants. Perception, 22, 463-475. doi: 10.1068/p220463

Robinson, C. W., & Sloutsky, V. M. (2007). Linguistic labels and categorization in infancy: Do
labels facilitate or hinder? Infancy, 11, 233-253. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7078.2007.tb00225.x

Robinson, C. W., Best, C. A., Deng, W., & Sloutsky, V. M. (2012). The role of words in
cognitive tasks: What, when, and how? Frontiers in Psychology, 3. doi:

Robinson, C. W., & Sloutsky, V. M. (2010). Development of crossmodal processing. Wiley
Interdisciplinary Review Cognitive Science 1, 135-141. doi: 10.1002/wcs.12

Sloutsky, V. M. (2003). The role of similarity in the development of categorization. Trends in
cognitive sciences, 7, 246-251. doi: 10.1016/S1364-6613(03)00109-8

Swingly, D., Pinto, J. P., & Fernald, A. (1990). Continuous processing in word recognition at 24
months. Cognition, 71, 73-108. doi : 10.1016/S0010-0277(99)00021-9

Trudeau, N. & et coll. (2008). Inventaires MacArthur-Bates du développement de la
communication: Manuel de l’utilisateur. Montreal, QC: Réseau canadien de recherche sur
le langage et l’alphabétisation.

Waxman, S. R., & Booth, A. E. (2001). Seeing pink elephants: Fourteen-month-olds’
interpretations of novel nouns and adjectives. Cognitive Psychology, 43, 217-242.

Waxman, S. R., & Brawn, I. (2005). Consistent (but not variable) names as invitations to form
object categories: New evidence from 12-month-old infants. Cognition, 95, B59-B68. doi:

Waxman, S. R., & Gelman, S. A. (2010). Different kinds of concepts and different kinds of
words: What words do for human cognition. The Making of Human Concepts, 101-130.

Waxman, S. R., & Lidz, J. L. (2006). Early world learning. Handbook of Child Psychology. doi:

Waxman, S. R., & Markow, D. B. (1995). Words as invitations to form categories: Evidence
from 12- to 13-month-old infants. Cognitive Psychology, 29, 257-302.

Weisleder, A., & Waxman, S. R. (2010). What's in the input? Frequent frames in child-directed
speech offer distributional cues to grammatical categories in Spanish and English. Journal
of Child Language, 37, 1089-1108. doi: 10.1017/S035000909990067

Welder, A. N., & Graham, S. A. (2001). The influences of shape similarity and shared labels on
infants’ inductive inferences about nonobvious object properties. Child Development, 72,
1653-1673. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00371.

Yamauchi, T., & Markman, A. B. (1998). Category learning by inference and
classification. Journal of Memory and language, 39, 124-148. doi:

Yamauchi, T., & Markman, A. B. (2000). Inference using categories. Journal of Experimental
Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26, 776. doi: 10.1037//0278-7393.26.3.77

Younger, B. A., & Cohen, L. B. (1986). Developmental change in infants' perception of
correlations among attributes. Child Development, 803-815. doi: 10.2307/1130356
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Downloads per month over past year

Back to top Back to top