Nonverbal generics: Human infants interpret objects as symbols of object kinds

G. Csibra, Rubeena Shamsudheen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human infants are involved in communicative interactions with others well before they start to speak or understand language. It is generally thought that this communication is useful for establishing interpersonal relations and supporting joint activities, but, in the absence of symbolic functions that language provides, these early communicative contexts do not allow infants to learn about the world. However, recent studies suggest that when someone demonstrates something using an object as the medium of instruction, infants can conceive the object as an exemplar of the whole class of objects of the same kind. Thus, an object, just like a word, can play the role of a symbol that stands for something else than itself, and infants can learn general knowledge about a kind of object from nonverbal communication about a single item of that kind. This rudimentary symbolic capacity may be one of the roots of the development of symbolic understanding in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-710
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Psychology
Volume66
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015

Fingerprint

Language
Nonverbal Communication
Interpersonal Relations
Symbol
Symbolic Function
Medium of Instruction
Interaction
Communication

Keywords

  • Communication
  • Generics
  • Infants
  • Reference
  • Symbols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Nonverbal generics : Human infants interpret objects as symbols of object kinds. / Csibra, G.; Shamsudheen, Rubeena.

In: Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 66, 01.01.2015, p. 689-710.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{f110d477ae5444858be0329443bc2bb0,
title = "Nonverbal generics: Human infants interpret objects as symbols of object kinds",
abstract = "Human infants are involved in communicative interactions with others well before they start to speak or understand language. It is generally thought that this communication is useful for establishing interpersonal relations and supporting joint activities, but, in the absence of symbolic functions that language provides, these early communicative contexts do not allow infants to learn about the world. However, recent studies suggest that when someone demonstrates something using an object as the medium of instruction, infants can conceive the object as an exemplar of the whole class of objects of the same kind. Thus, an object, just like a word, can play the role of a symbol that stands for something else than itself, and infants can learn general knowledge about a kind of object from nonverbal communication about a single item of that kind. This rudimentary symbolic capacity may be one of the roots of the development of symbolic understanding in children.",
keywords = "Communication, Generics, Infants, Reference, Symbols",
author = "G. Csibra and Rubeena Shamsudheen",
year = "2015",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015232",
language = "English",
volume = "66",
pages = "689--710",
journal = "Annual Review of Psychology",
issn = "0066-4308",
publisher = "Annual Reviews Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Nonverbal generics

T2 - Human infants interpret objects as symbols of object kinds

AU - Csibra, G.

AU - Shamsudheen, Rubeena

PY - 2015/1/1

Y1 - 2015/1/1

N2 - Human infants are involved in communicative interactions with others well before they start to speak or understand language. It is generally thought that this communication is useful for establishing interpersonal relations and supporting joint activities, but, in the absence of symbolic functions that language provides, these early communicative contexts do not allow infants to learn about the world. However, recent studies suggest that when someone demonstrates something using an object as the medium of instruction, infants can conceive the object as an exemplar of the whole class of objects of the same kind. Thus, an object, just like a word, can play the role of a symbol that stands for something else than itself, and infants can learn general knowledge about a kind of object from nonverbal communication about a single item of that kind. This rudimentary symbolic capacity may be one of the roots of the development of symbolic understanding in children.

AB - Human infants are involved in communicative interactions with others well before they start to speak or understand language. It is generally thought that this communication is useful for establishing interpersonal relations and supporting joint activities, but, in the absence of symbolic functions that language provides, these early communicative contexts do not allow infants to learn about the world. However, recent studies suggest that when someone demonstrates something using an object as the medium of instruction, infants can conceive the object as an exemplar of the whole class of objects of the same kind. Thus, an object, just like a word, can play the role of a symbol that stands for something else than itself, and infants can learn general knowledge about a kind of object from nonverbal communication about a single item of that kind. This rudimentary symbolic capacity may be one of the roots of the development of symbolic understanding in children.

KW - Communication

KW - Generics

KW - Infants

KW - Reference

KW - Symbols

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84911494923&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84911494923&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015232

DO - 10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015232

M3 - Article

C2 - 25251493

AN - SCOPUS:84911494923

VL - 66

SP - 689

EP - 710

JO - Annual Review of Psychology

JF - Annual Review of Psychology

SN - 0066-4308

ER -