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NYU / Psychology / PSY 34 / Is language unique to humans?

Is language unique to humans?

Is language unique to humans?


School: New York University
Department: Psychology
Course: Developmental Psychology
Professor: Zhana vrangalova
Term: Spring 2016
Tags: developmental psychology, development, and child development
Cost: 50
Name: Exam 2 DevPsych Study Guide
Description: Exam 2 Study Guide Infant Cognition Language Acquisition Symbols Becoming Euclid Conceptual Development Language Conceptual Development Social Development and Theory of Mind
Uploaded: 10/30/2017
11 Pages 168 Views 14 Unlocks

Eun-Sung Chang

Is language unique to humans?

Dev Psych

Midterm 2 Review - Exam Date: 10/31/17

***Please do not rely solely on this review to study for the exam.***

Infant Cognition

• Object permanence – understanding that things exist independent of our experience of  them

• Object concept – objects have stable properties and exist independently of our  psychological and physical interactions with them

o Continue to exist when out of sight

o Retain their physical properties (solidity/texture)

o Retain their spatial properties (location)

• Means-end reasoning – engaging in a mean that is different with what the ends entail o Was thought to be too difficult for infants

Which component of language acquisition refers to grammar?

• Baillargeon tested babies with screen that leaned back with an object behind the screen o Expected ???? screen moved back and stopped where the object was

o Unexpected ???? screen moved back past the object and laid all the way down ▪ Babies as young as 3 ½ months (way younger than Piaget’s theory) looked  longer at the impossible event ???? suggests they thought there was an  

object behind the screen

• Spelke tested to see if infants have a concept of cohesion with an image of a green line  behind a blue block

o Blue block moved to show 1 cohesive green line

o Blue block moved to show 2 disconnected pieces of the green line

What is the importance of symbols in communication?

▪ 4-month-olds looked longer at disconnected pieces

▪ 1-month-olds looked at both equally, but looked longer at the 2 broken  bits when there was motion involved Don't forget about the age old question of What is the function of cerebrospinal fluid?

• Johnson tested babies on same task but used eye-tracking to determine which infants  were “perceivers” and “non-perceivers”

o Motion showed green line moving cohesively behind a blue block

▪ Most kids are perceiving

▪ Perceivers look up and down at green rod peeking outside of block

▪ Non-perceivers look all over the place and not at relevant parts of video • A not B error – baby look at an object behind B but arm shoots out to grab A o Action planning – process planning motor movement to go to B not A o Execution – actual control to go to a new location

• Infants do not have the capacity to plan ???? there is a disconnect between the ventral  and dorsal processing streams

o Ventral stream – “what” stream

o Dorsal stream – “where” stream, spatial processing/object location If you want to learn more check out What does the government do in a fiscal policy?
If you want to learn more check out What are the deciding factors that determine sustainability?

• Relationships between objects

o Support – one object on top of another

▪ 7-month-olds know if 50% of object is on base, base will support object

o Occlusion – one object hides another

▪ 3-month-olds look longer when tall object hides behind short object

o Containment – one object inside another

▪ Babies do not understand containment even though they understand  occlusion ???? suggests infants are not learning that height is generalizable  to other events

• Face preference ???? babies prefer faces over other things We also discuss several other topics like Is hypothesis a prediction?

o Newborns will turn their heads to look at faces over blobs

• Principles of motion ???? babies are not surprised to see flying objects, but are surprised  to see flying people We also discuss several other topics like What is the contribution of arthur keith in anthropology?

• Goal-directed action ???? 5-month-olds attribute different goals to people and objects • Space – self-locomotion plays a role of kids’ understanding of their own space/space of  others We also discuss several other topics like What is the arrangement when it comes to shared parenthood?

o Kids succeed when they locomote themselves

o Fail when someone else moves them

• Time

o Kids are good at anticipating order of events

o Kids are bad at future thinking/duration of events

• Causality – behavior of contingencies of the world

o Innate core theory of causality – babies have spatiotemporal perception of  contact

Language Acquisition

• Language is

o For communication

o For organization of thoughts/concepts

o For maintaining/creating social structure

o Unique to humans

• Original learning theory – language is acquired by operant conditioning and  reinforcement ???? children simply listen and respond to input

• Original nativist theory – children have a Language Acquisition Device (LAD) ???? children  can induce the rules of language from the speech of others

• New nativist theory – children apply grammatical rules to words they have never heard  before ???? make nonsense words plural by adding –s or make words past tense by adding  –ed even if it’s incorrect (bring ???? “bringed” (supposed to be “brought”)) • Components of Language Acquisition

o Speech perception – sound units

▪ Babies prefer to hear speech over nonspeech

o Segmentation – of lexical forms

▪ Boundaries between words have low transitional probabilities

▪ Syllables have high transitional probabilities

o Morphology – meaning units

o Syntax – grammar

▪ Children create novel sentences, regularize to new instances using rules,  over-regularize

o Semantics – meaning

• There is a sensitive period to develop language

• Components of Language Production

o Cooing – “ah” and “ooh” vowels

o Babbling – consonants, clicks, raspberries

o Deaf children babble vocally later and babble manually at the same time as  hearing children

o Prosody – strings of babbles with same intonation as adult speech

▪ Adults can listen to babies raised with different languages and can pick  out their native language in baby babbling 70% of the time

▪ Infants are already native speakers in the prosody of their language


• Symbols – something that someone intends to represent something other than itself o Symbols get their meaning from society and are agreed upon meanings that are  conventional

• “Representational” – when something stands for/depicts something other than itself o “RE-present” – our senses gather perceptive information ???? our minds re present the information gathered from the world in different ways to do stuff  with it

• “Intentional” – deliberate behavior to achieve a goal

o Intentionality is doing something with purpose to bring about a change in the  world

• Importance of symbols

o Information transfer

o Cultural transmission

• Symbols are creative, flexible, and unique to humans

• Quine’s problem of induction – there is no symbol or possible meaning of a word  because it needs context

o Ex.) You see a bunny run across the lawn, and someone says “gavagai!” ???? what  does “gavagai” mean?

▪ Could mean multiple things depending on context

• Learning nouns

o Constraints – cognitive tools that narrow hypothesis space, mental shortcuts ▪ Whole object assumption

• Ex.) If you are presented with a beady-yellow-eyed creature, and  

someone said “eye-eye,” what would you think “eye-eye” meant?

o Most would say it means the whole animal

• Ex.) “This is my blicket” referring to a furry T-shaped object ????

asked children to point to the “blicket” referring to similar texture  

or shape

o Most 2-year-olds pointed to object that had the same  


▪ Mutual exclusivity

• We don’t want to have 2 labels for the same thing

• Bilingual children at 16 months resist mutual exclusivity

o Translation equivalence – they override their mutual  

exclusivity bias when they are older, depending on which  

language is being spoken to them

• Social cues ???? children will not learn a novel word if person labeling does not look/point  at the object

• Learning verbs

o Word-to-world pairings/mappings are not enough

▪ Same scene can be described from different perspectives

▪ Verbs can refer to events we can’t directly “see”

o Syntactic bootstrapping

▪ Baby brings some syntactic knowledge to the task

▪ Syntax helps “zoom in” on the correct interpretation

▪ Ex.) “Gorping” in context of duck choking bunny while bouncing up and  down together

• “Duck is gorping the bunny” ???? children will think gorping means


• “Duck and bunny are gorping” ???? children will think gorping  

means bouncing up and down

• Social contingency to learn verbs ???? kids were able to learn new words through live  interactions and video chatting, but not through the yoked video

• Dual representation – thinking of 1 thing in 2 ways, symbolic relationship • Scale models

o Ex.) Standard room vs. shrinking room

▪ Kids can’t find an object when they see a mini version of that object being  hidden in a mini version of the room

▪ Kids succeed at finding objects in a “shrinking room” because they hold 1  idea/representation of the room

• Picture comprehension and production

o Ex.) Picture of whisk is shown ???? child is told “whisk!” ???? child is then tested with  picture of whisk and real whisk

▪ “Where is the whisk now?” ???? kids will choose either real whisk or both • 18-24 month olds start developing understanding that picture of  

whisk is supposed to represent real whisk

o Children are sensitive to their own intentions

Becoming Euclid

• Euclid – connecting the world in which we live to the world in which we think • Symbolic maps and pictorial understanding

o Kids better at navigating were better at reading a map with sides o Kids better at shape analysis task were better at reading a map with angles • Perspectival pictures and objects

o Children presented with perspectival pictures of a common room and objects  (like Legos) and asked to put stuffed animal in target location shown on the  picture

▪ When children were presented with a picture of navigational layout (overhead picture of the room) ???? paid attention to direction

• Child sometimes placed the animal in the correct corner of the  

room, but sometimes placed it in the diagonally opposite corner  

(even if there was something in the room that indicated it was a  

different corner like a window)

▪ When children were presented with a picture of objects (Legos) ???? paid  attention to shape analysis

• Child would find the relevant landmark and ignore directional  


▪ The type of information child used to place the stuffed animal depended  in context with which picture was presented

• Layout ???? direction

• Small scale object ???? shapes

• Children’s use of spatial information in drawings (Dillon et al.)

o 3 conditions: children presented with

▪ 1. Just the objects in the picture

▪ 2. Just the scene information in the picture

▪ 3. Both objects and scene information in the picture

o Experiment 1 ???? look at drawing, place a stuffed animal in the target location as  shown in the drawing either in a corner of a room (extended surface  information) or next to a piece of furniture (objects)

o Wanted to see if kids would perform better with both types of information ???? found that overall they did do better

▪ Kids who got both types of information did better because they were  able to be flexible in their use, but they did not combine both types of  information

▪ For every individual target, kids who got both types performed just as  well as those who received the relevant kind of information

• Did just as well as child who received surface layout information  

when presented with surface layout task

• Did just as well as child who received objects when presented  

with objects task

▪ There was no extra boost, and there are still limits

o Experiment 2 ???? line drawing evaluation task in which experimenters asked kids  whether a map of objects or a map of extended surface is more helpful in  determining the target location

▪ Kids thought the map of objects was more helpful in determining target  location

• Geometric Intuitions

o Asked about location of 3rd angle when 2 bottom angles changed distance ???? higher, lower, or stay where it is?

▪ 6, 10, 12-year olds were all good at location questions

o Asked about angle size of 3rd angle ???? greater, less, or stay the same? ▪ 6-year-olds were bad at angle questions

▪ 10-year-olds were okay at angle questions

▪ 12-year-olds were good (adult-like) at angle questions

o Tested map reading

▪ No significant relationship in 6-year-olds

▪ Better 10-12-year-olds were at reading side distance maps, the better  they were at corner information maps

o Through development, the representation of different maps become more and  more integrated

• Causal mechanisms and school learning

o Intervention study in Delhi, India

▪ 2 groups:

• 1. Math games

• 2. Social games (no geometry involved)

▪ After 4 months of playing these games, were their abilities/intuitive skills  in geometry in school better?

• The math games group improved their intuitive geometry after 1  

month of playing those games

• After 6 months, their development in the symbolic skills they  

acquired disappeared

Conceptual Development

• Classical view – each concept consists of a set of features that define membership in the  corresponding category

o All descriptions of a concept are individually necessary and jointly sufficient o Problems

▪ Trouble coming up with defining features for everyday concepts

▪ Not all category members seem equally typical, as assumed by the  

classical view

• Probabilistic view – concepts have a “family resemblance” structure

o No feature is necessary/sufficient ???? all features are probabilistically related to  category membership

o Features have different weights or strengths

o The more category features an object has, the more prototypical it is of that  category

▪ Ex.) Robin is “more like” a bird than a penguin is

o Problems

▪ Ignores the extensive causal knowledge people have about the features  of a category

• Ex.) A straight boomerang is more problematic than a straight  


• Concepts in theories view – concepts are embedded in intuitive theories about how the  world works

• Children’s concepts

o Piaget ???? preoperational children younger than 7 focus on static, superficial  features

▪ Ex.) Conservation of number

o Shape bias ???? preschoolers seem to use a new word for things of the same shape  even if they are different categories

o Transformation task ???? 4 year olds don’t understand transformation, 2nd graders  do

o Inductive inference ???? most 4 year olds generalize things with same category  members

o Children know insides are important

o Byers and Heinlein Garcia (2015)

▪ Monolingual children ???? believed human language, animal vocalizations,  and animal physical traits were innately endowed

▪ Simultaneous bilingual children (learned 2 languages at the same time)  ???? believed human language, animal vocalizations, and animal physical  

traits were innately endowed

▪ Sequential bilingual children (learned 2 languages at different times, 1 a  couple years after the other) ???? believed human language, animal  

vocalizations, and animal physical traits were learned from the


• Native essentialism – a particular type of naïve theory seems to characterize children  and adult thinking very well

o Children assume categories have hidden (often internal) essences that  determine category membership, external appearances, category-typical  behaviors/preferences/etc.

o Belief in essence is often vague and just a placeholder

o Children are essentialists with respect to natural kinds

Language Conceptual Development

• Linguistic determinism – language can determine thought

• Linguistic relativism – language influences thought

• 2 hypotheses about how infants learn language

1. Infants pull out relationships from language ???? create new categories 2. Infants already see relationships ???? manipulate existing categories

• Perception – seeing things as different

• Categorical perception – modulating perception of differences based on where they are  in category structure

o Ex.) Spatial categorization in English and Korean

▪ Loose in condition vs. tight in condition

• 5 month olds looked longer at new relationship that they were  

not habituated to ???? implies that they were sensitive to  

perceptual features of tightness/looseness

▪ Loose on condition vs. tight on condition

• 5 month olds looked longer at new relationship ???? sensitive to  


▪ English adults could not do the task ???? perceived loose and tight  

conditions as the same

• Hierarchies and chunking help us remember different arrays in working memory o Ex.) Cookies in box experiment

▪ Babies cannot perceive the number 4 and will continue to search in the  box if they think more is inside

• Temporal spacing ???? 2 different objects at a time or different sizes

o Sequential familiar

o Alternating familiar

o Sequential novel

o Alternating novel

▪ Babies keep searching except alternating novel  


• Language can influence babies’ perceptions

o Kids can chunk with conceptual labels

o Kids cannot chunk with generic labels

• We represent numbers with symbols

o Ex.) Piraha – language in Amazon that has name for all numbers more than 2 ▪ People can count to 3 possibly because of innate representations

▪ Can tell 3 vs. 10, but not 10 vs. 11

Social Development and Theory of Mind

• Social psychology – how people are influenced by other people

o Focus is on the individual, on immediate interaction, or perceived social situation • Social development – how aspects of our social life develop

o Emotion

o Personality

o Attachment and relationships

o Self

o Morality

o Gender

• Theory of mind – interpreting surface behavior in terms of underlying mental states o Mind ???? representations

o My representations are NOT the same as your representations

o Your representations are different from reality

• 3 cues to agency

o Self-propelled motion

o Contingent behavior

o Morphological features

• Influencers of agent’s behavior

o Goals – intention

▪ Ex.) Goal of object

• No play baseline ???? measure how kid plays with toy before  

showing kid anything

• Manipulation control ???? experimenter holds the object for 30  

seconds and then gives it to the kids to see what they’ll do with it

• Demonstration ???? experimenter shows the goal of the object

then gives object to kid

• Intention ???? experimenter would try but fail to reach the goal of  

the object then gives object to kid

o Results (% of the number of times 18-month-olds reached  

the goal)

▪ No play – 20%

▪ Manipulation – %40

▪ Demonstration – %100

▪ Intention – %80

▪ Ex.) Goal of object with machines

• Only 10% of children succeeded when a machine was trying (not  


▪ Ex.) Touch lamp

• Babies used their hands to turn on light when they thought  

experimenter had their hands busy (so they used their head)

• Babies used their heads to turn on light when they thought that  

was what the experimenter was trying to do

o Beliefs

▪ Ex.) Deception

• Tested 2-4 year olds

• Hide/find treasures in 1 of 4 locations

• Puppet hider leaves inky footprints

• Other puppet comes ???? if puppet finds the treasure, it keeps it,  

but if it doesn’t, the child gets to keep it

o Most children withhold information

▪ Ex.) Unexpected contents task

• What do you think is in the box?

o Smarties

• What’s actually in the box?

o Colored pencils

• What do you think your roommate will think is in the box?

o Smarties

▪ 4-year-olds succeed at this task

▪ 3-year-olds usually fail

• Knowledge state is something that develops  

between the ages of 3 and 4

▪ Ex.) Unexpected transfer task

• Max puts chocolate in blue drawer and goes out to play. His mom  moves chocolate to green drawer. When Max comes back, which  

drawer does he look in?

o Blue drawer

▪ 3-4-year-olds ???? 40%

▪ 5-6-year-olds ???? 50%

▪ 6-7-year-olds ???? 90%

• Knowledge gets better as children age

• Similar to Sally Anne task

o Limitations of traditional false beliefs tasks

▪ Misunderstand

▪ Fail to integrate

▪ Language

▪ Inhibition failure

• Ex.) Tricky watermelon experiment

o Belief induction true belief green

▪ Doors open and yellow box moves

o Belief induction true belief yellow

▪ Doors open and toy moves into yellow box

• Kids look longer when experimenter looks for something that’s

true in perspective to the world but inconsistent to the  

information she knows

o Belief induction false belief green

▪ Doors closed and toy moves into yellow box

▪ Experimenter watches toy move from green to yellow

• 15 month olds can govern whether people have true or false  

belief on the world

• Babies look longer when experimenter looks in green after seeing  toy move to yellow

o This experiment gets rid of limitations ???? no language involved, babies need to  keep track of only 1 person

• Using theory of mind to understand social interactions

o Ex.) Choi and Luo

▪ True belief – Puppet A watched Puppet B hit Puppet C

• Puppet A concludes Puppet B is a jerk

▪ False belief – A is not there, B hits C

• A believes B is nice when it’s not in real life

▪ Accidental – A is present, B accidentally hits C

• No inferences made because it was an accident

▪ After each condition was shown, Puppet A and Puppet B wiggled  together/laughed together

• Infants looked longest when A and B got along after A witnessed B  hit C

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