What is in a name?: The development of cross-cultural differences in referential intuitions

Cognition 171 (C): 108-111 (2018)
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Past work has shown systematic differences between Easterners' and Westerners' intuitions about the reference of proper names. Understanding when these differences emerge in development will help us understand their origins. In the present study, we investigate the referential intuitions of English- and Chinese-speaking children and adults in the U.S. and China. Using a truth-value judgment task modeled on Kripke's classic Gödel case, we find that the cross-cultural differences are already in place at age seven. Thus, these differences cannot be attributed to later education or enculturation. Instead, they must stem from differences that are present in early childhood. We consider alternate theories of reference that are compatible with these findings and discuss the possibility that the cross-cultural differences reflect differences in perspective-taking strategies.

Author Profiles

Jincai Li
Shanghai JiaoTong University
Jincai Li
East China Normal University


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