All Publications

  • Social cues modulate the representations underlying cross situational learning COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY MacDonald, K., Yurovsky, D., Frank, M. C. 2017; 94: 67-84


    Because children hear language in environments that contain many things to talk about, learning the meaning of even the simplest word requires making inferences under uncertainty. A cross-situational statistical learner can aggregate across naming events to form stable word-referent mappings, but this approach neglects an important source of information that can reduce referential uncertainty: social cues from speakers (e.g., eye gaze). In four large-scale experiments with adults, we tested the effects of varying referential uncertainty in cross-situational word learning using social cues. Social cues shifted learners away from tracking multiple hypotheses and towards storing only a single hypothesis (Experiments 1 and 2). In addition, learners were sensitive to graded changes in the strength of a social cue, and when it became less reliable, they were more likely to store multiple hypotheses (Experiment 3). Finally, learners stored fewer word-referent mappings in the presence of a social cue even when given the opportunity to visually inspect the objects for the same amount of time (Experiment 4). Taken together, our data suggest that the representations underlying cross-situational word learning of concrete object labels are quite flexible: In conditions of greater uncertainty, learners store a broader range of information.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2017.02.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000400232400004

    View details for PubMedID 28288392

  • My people, right or wrong? Minimal group membership disrupts preschoolers' selective trust COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Macdonald, K., Schug, M., Chase, E., Barth, H. 2013; 28 (3): 247-259