Psychology Department Seminar Elena Nicoladis

13 September 2019

It is commonly assumed that children find iconic representations (those that resemble the referent, like onomatopoeia) easier than arbitrary representations (like words). In this talk, I show that children are not sensitive to the iconicity in number gestures (where one finger held up represents "one"). Children initially learn number gestures as arbitrary symbols and must therefore learn to crack the code. How do children crack the code? I discuss four experiences that we have tested: an intervention drawing attention to the one-to-one correspondence, greater type frequency in the input, schooling, and growing up in China. While growing up in China has a major impact on children's interpretation of number gestures, the other three experiences show disappointingly small effects on children's ability to crack the code.