Social Pragmatics: Preschoolers Rely on Commonsense Psychology to Resolve Referential Underspecification
Author(s)Jara‐Ettinger, Julian; Floyd, Sammy; Huey, Holly; Tenenbaum, Joshua B; Schulz, Laura E
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Four experiments show that 4‐ and 5‐year‐olds (total N = 112) can identify the referent of underdetermined utterances through their Naïve Utility Calculus—an intuitive theory of people’s behavior structured around an assumption that agents maximize utilities. In Experiments 1–2, a puppet asked for help without specifying to whom she was talking (“Can you help me?”). In Experiments 3–4, a puppet asked the child to pass an object without specifying what she wanted (“Can you pass me that one?”). Children’s responses suggest that they considered cost trade‐offs between the members in the interaction. These findings add to a body of work showing that reference resolution is informed by commonsense psychology from early in childhood.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Jara-Ettinger, Julian et al. "Social Pragmatics: Preschoolers Rely on Commonsense Psychology to Resolve Referential Underspecification." Child Development (July 2019): 1-15 © 2019 Society for Research in Child Development
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