Children's and Adults' Use of Conversation Cues When Selecting Sources of Information
DeLisle, Sarah S.
Word learning may be best characterized by the ability to recruit information from social others. One question, then, is how children decide to learn words from one person versus another. The present study investigates the possibility that children use a speaker's ability to follow conversational norms when deciding whether to receive information about object labels. In particular, we investigated whether adults and four-year-olds are sensitive to violations of the Gricean maxims of quality and relation. Adults revealed sensitivity to violations of each maxim and used this to select from whom they received information. Four-year-olds were not sensitive to these violations. Future studies might pinpoint why children were unsuccessful in using the violations to decide whether to learn words from someone.