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Labeling Effects on Cognitive Development

In the first years of life, children acquire a rich repertoire of conceptual categories. They learn that things with feathers tend to fly, that animals possessing certain features are dogs, that foods of a certain color and shape are edible, that objects made of certain materials bounce when they fall. Simultaneously, they learn names for these categories; for example, they learn that flying things with feathers are called birds, that the sound dogs make is called barking, and that a certain class of motions is called bouncing. A key question is whether and how learning and using verbal labels affects cognitive development. For example, in English, paintings hang on walls and plates rest on tables despite obvious differences between the two kinds of support. Does ...

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