What's in a name? Typicality and relatedness effects in children

S Jerger, M F Damian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

16 Citations (Scopus)


We studied how category typicality and out-of-category relatedness affect speeded category verification (vote "yes" if pictured object is clothing) in typically developing 4- to 14-year-olds and adults. Stimuli were typical and atypical category objects (e.g., pants, glove) and related and unrelated out-of-category objects (e.g., necklace, soup). Typical and unrelated out-of-category objects exhibited preferential processing (faster reaction times and fewer errors). Variations in typicality and relatedness disproportionately influenced children's performance, with developmental improvement associated with both verbal and nonverbal factors. Under-extension versus overextension errors seemed to be associated with independent factors, namely multifaceted maturational factors versus receptive vocabulary skill, respectively. Errors were infrequent, suggesting spontaneous taxonomic classification by all participants. An experiment with printed words in adults replicated results, indicating that typicality and relatedness effects reflected organizational principles of the semantic system, not picture-related processes. This research establishes the viability of an online approach to assessing automatic components of semantic organization in children. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-75
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005

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