Send to

Choose Destination
J Exp Psychol Gen. 2001 Dec;130(4):600-20.

Why children learn color and size words so differently: evidence from adults' learning of artificial terms.

Author information

Department of Psychology and Program in Cognitive Science, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405, USA.


An adult simulation study examined why children's learning of color and size terms follow different developmental patterns, one in which word comprehension precedes success in nonlinguistic matching tasks versus one in which matching precedes word comprehension. In 4 experiments, adults learned artificial labels for values on novel dimensions. Training mimicked that characteristic for children learning either color words or size words. The results suggest that the learning trajectories arise from the different frames in which different dimensions are trained: Using a comparison (size-like) training regimen helps learners pick out the relevant dimension, and using a categorization (color-like) training regimen helps the learner correctly comprehend and produce dimension terms. The results indicate that the training regimen, not the meanings of the terms or the specific dimensions, determines the pattern of learning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association
Loading ...
Support Center