The wisest or the nicest? The influence of speaker certainty and affect in word learning
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This study aimed to find out whether speaker certainty of the interlocutor and affect towards the interlocutor could guide children in the word learning process. In three experiments with 4- to 6-year-old children, two handpuppets labeled novel objects. It was found that children tend to learn new words from a certain speaker rather than from an uncertain speaker, but they had no significant preference for learning from a kind speaker. When both cues were combined, it was found that children prefer an unkind and certain speaker over a kind and uncertain speaker, showing that speaker certainty leads to stronger learning preferences than affect. However, kind and certain speakers were preferred most, indicating that affect has a small additive effect. A posttest in which children had to recall which object belonged to which label showed that many of the new links between labels and objects were enduring.