Jeffrey Lidz (Maryland) will give a colloquium talk this Friday in Public Affairs 2270, at 11 a.m. As always, a social hour will follow at 1 pm in Campbell 2122. The title of the talk is:
Children’s Attitude Problems
Location: Public Affairs 2270 (Please note the change in location from last quarter)
Time: Friday, January 18, 11-1pm
Contact: Victoria Mateu
Please see her abstract below:
This talk will investigate the connection between children’s linguistic acquisition of mental state (‘attitude’) verbs and their mind-reading development. Children’s acquisition of attitude verbs like ‘think’ or ‘want’ has been used as a window into their understanding of other people’s minds. An extensive number of acquisition studies show that young children display difficulty with verbs like ‘think’ but not ‘want’. This result is often interpreted as reflecting an asymmetry in conceptual development: while the desire concept is acquired early, children fail to grasp the concept of belief until their fourth birthday. This talk presents a linguistic explanation for these acquisition facts, which derives the asymmetry and children’s mistakes from pragmatic factors, rather than a deficiency in semantic or conceptual knowledge. Our experimental results suggest that children’s conceptual and semantic knowledge for attitudes is in place early on, and can be unmasked in the right pragmatic conditions.