How Children Acquire Meaning of the Word That Is Beyond Their Direct Perception: A Hypothesis on Social, Language and Conceptual Experience Interaction



In our study 3—4-year-old children were given a task to set up the connection between a novel object, its name and some additional information about that object, which was either available to visual perception (outer colour) or unavailable (inner colour). Despite the hypothesis of the social determination of a word (Bloom, 2000), sug- gesting that children prefer to connect a new word to the information unavailable to their perception but coming from the adult, we found that 4-year-olds could remember both pieces of information as well as the word. Unlike them, 3-year-olds could only remember the object's name and visually available information. Children's knowledge of colour names influenced their ability to remember the information about the inner colour: those children who could barely name colours themselves didn't remember the inner colour of the object. In the additional research we demonstrated that the language experience itself isn't the only one that it takes to remember the visually unavail- able information, but it had to be connected to the relevant conceptual knowledge. At the end of the article we are considering the constraints related to the interaction of the social, language and conceptual experience in novel words' learning which specify the hypothesis of the social determination of a word.

General Information

Keywords: development, speech, meaning, perception, memory, learning, preschool age

Journal rubric: Developmental Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Kotov A.A., Vlasova E.F., Kotova T.N. How Children Acquire Meaning of the Word That Is Beyond Their Direct Perception: A Hypothesis on Social, Language and Conceptual Experience Interaction. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2014. Vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 50–57. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Alexey A. Kotov, PhD in Psychology, Senior Researcher of the Laboratory for cognitive research, Department of Psychology,, National Research University 'Higher School of Economics, Sirius University of Science and Technology, Sochi, Russia, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Elizaveta F. Vlasova, Student, Russian State University for the Humanities, e-mail:

Tatyana N. Kotova, PhD in Psychology, Senior Researcher, Laboratory for the Cognitive Research, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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