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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.

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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


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