Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Behrend, Douglas

Reader

Thompson, Craig W..

Second Reader

Lee, Richard

Third Reader

Zies, Brenda

Abstract

Children are known to use various learning biases to efficiently develop their language skills. Prior studies have confirmed that young children keep track of reliability histories of possible teachers in order to selectively learn words. Furthermore, it has been shown that they are less likely to learn from foreign language speakers or foreign names of objects. Recent studies even indicated that children seem to change their patterns of learning just by hearing the cultural background of the target objects. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the cultural bias in word learning among 2- to 3-year-olds. We hypothesized that children would be less likely to learn object names and functions when they were told those objects and/or the teacher were from another country. The result of the experiment showed no evidence to support this hypothesis; however, we found that participants performed very poorly in the novel word learning task, yet very well on the novel function learning task. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed.

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