Two-year-olds use artist intention to understand drawings.

Melissa Preissler, Paul Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Adults appreciate that an abstract visual representation can be understood through inferring the artist?s intention. Many investigators have argued that this capacity is a late-emerging developmental accomplishment, a claim supported by Wndings that preschool children ignore explicit statements about intent when naming pictures. Using a simpliWed method, we explored picture naming in 2-year-olds. Experiment 1 found that when an adult artist drew an object, children later mapped a novel name for the drawing to the object that the adult had been looking at. Experiment 2 suggests that this response was not merely because there was more attention given to that object. These Wndings are consistent with the view that children are naturally disposed to reason about artifacts, including artwork, in terms of inferred intention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-518
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Intention
  • Reference
  • Drawings
  • Language


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