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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2019 Aug;45(8):1387-1397. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000659. Epub 2018 Oct 4.

Referential processing in 3- and 5-year-old children is egocentrically anchored.

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ACTE-Autism in Context-Theory and Experiment.
Center for Research in Cognition and Neurosciences (CRCN).


An ongoing debate in the literature on language acquisition is whether preschool children process reference in an egocentric way or whether they spontaneously and by-default take their partner's perspective into account. The reported study implements a computerized referential task with a controlled trial presentation and simple verbal instructions. Contrary to the predictions of the partner-specific view, entrained referential precedents give rise to faster processing for 3- and 5-year-old children, independently of whether the conversational partner is the same as in the lexical entrainment phase or not. Additionally, both age groups display a processing preference for the interaction with the same partner, be it for new or previously used referential descriptions. These results suggest that preschool children may adapt to their conversational partner; however, partner-specificity is encoded as low-level auditory-phonological priming rather than through inferences about a partner's perspective. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


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