How Do Parents Respond To Children's Questions About The Identity Of Artifacts?

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Developmental Science


We investigated how parents respond to young children's questions about the identity of artifacts. Children's questions were predominantly ambiguous about whether they were inquiring about name or function, but when their questions were more specific, they were almost always about function. For unfamiliar objects, parents responded with functional information the majority of the time, alone or in addition to names. For atypical members of familiar categories, adults usually responded only with the category name. The results indicate that adults adjust their responses in a way that often provides the information about object kind, specifically functional information in the case of artifacts, that they believe their children are lacking. Such input may contribute to the development of children's concepts and word meanings.