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Real-World Processing of Word-Referent Pairs in Adults

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posted on 23.04.2009, 00:00 by Laura Cacciamani
The process of pairing words with their referents in the real world is often ambiguous; the same word may refer to different objects, the same object may be referred to by different words, and there may just be insufficient environmental cues to assist us in the process. Thus, how is it that adults are able to go about this, particularly when the word-referent pairings are not constant? Three different experiments were completed which tested the ability of adults to pair up novel words and shapes after being exposed to a learning phase where the words referred to the correct object either 50% or 75% of the time, in order to simulate the ambiguity of real-world referents and determine to what extent that ambiguity impairs their ability to correctly match them. The results showed that although all adults were able to determine word boundaries within the stream of speech, the difference in ability between the two conditions on pairing the words with their referents was not significantly different





Eric Thiessen


Biological Sciences and Psychology

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