Twelve-Month-Old Infants’ Encoding of Goal and Source Paths in Agentive and Non-Agentive Motion Events

Laura Lakusta, Susan Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Across languages and event types (i.e., agentive and nonagentive motion, transfer, change of state, attach/detach), goal paths are privileged over source paths in the linguistic encoding of events. Furthermore, some linguistic analyses suggest that goal paths are more central than source paths in the semantic and syntactic structure of motion verbs. However, in the nonlinguistic memory of children and adults, a goal bias shows up only for events involving intentional, goal-directed, action. Three experiments explored infants’ nonlinguistic representations of goals and sources in motion events. The findings revealed that 12-month-old infants privilege goals over sources only when the event involves action of an agent. Thus, unlike language (but similar to the memory of children and adults), an endpoint bias in infant thought may be restricted to events involving goal-directed motion by an agent. These results raise the question of how children later learn to collapse over conceptual domains for purposes of coding paths in language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-175
Number of pages24
JournalLanguage Learning and Development
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2015

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