Martin Zettersten's research while affiliated with Princeton University and other places

Publications (32)

Article
The ability to rapidly recognize words and link them to referents is central to children’s early language development. This ability, often called word recognition in the developmental literature, is typically studied in the looking-while-listening paradigm, which measures infants’ fixation on a target object (vs. a distractor) after hearing a targe...
Article
Dominant theories of language production suggest that word choice—lexical selection—is driven by alignment with the intended message: To talk about a young feline, we choose the most aligned word, kitten. Another factor that could shape lexical selection is word accessibility, or how easy it is to produce a given word (e.g., cat is more accessible...
Preprint
rule-based categories is crucial to children’s development, from learning how to maneuver through the world (e.g., knowing to stop at a red light) to abstract reasoning (e.g., learning that a three-sided shape is a triangle). How do children learn rule-based categories? Past work with adults suggests that verbal labels may support novel category in...
Article
A pervasive goal in the study of how children learn word meanings is to explain how young children solve the mapping problem. The mapping problem asks how language learners connect a label to its referent. Mapping is one part of word learning, however, it does not reflect other critical components of word meaning construction, such as the encoding...
Article
In this commentary, we suggest that infancy researchers should carefully consider validity when taking steps to improve reliability. Zooming in to focus on looking‐time methods, we argue that limitations in validity represent perhaps an even more fundamental issue than reliability. At the same time, focusing single‐mindedly on reliability comes wit...
Article
Yarkoni's analysis clearly articulates a number of concerns limiting the generalizability and explanatory power of psychological findings, many of which are compounded in infancy research. ManyBabies addresses these concerns via a radically collaborative, large-scale and open approach to research that is grounded in theory-building, committed to di...
Preprint
The ability to rapidly recognize words and link them to referents is central to children’s early language development. This ability, often called word recognition in the developmental literature, is typically studied in the looking-while-listening paradigm, which measures infants’ fixation on a target object (vs. a distractor) after hearing a targe...
Preprint
How do infants become word meaning experts? This study will investigate the structure of infants’ early lexical representations by manipulating the typicality of exemplars from familiar animal categories. 14- to 18-month-old infants (planned sample: N=80; 40 female; expected race/ethnicity: 60% White, 18% Asian, 3% Hispanic, 2% Black, 17% multiple...
Article
Full-text available
The present study examined how children spontaneously represent facial cues associated with emotion. 106 three‐ to six‐year‐old children (48 male, 58 female; 9.4% Asian, 84.0% White, 6.6% more than one race) and 40 adults (10 male, 30 female; 10% Hispanic, 30% Asian, 2.5% Black, 57.5% White) were recruited from a Midwestern city (2019–2020), and so...
Preprint
While many implicit decisions are the result of a trade-off, trade-offs in word use, such as whether a producer meant to convey a message more aligned with kitten despite saying a more accessible word like cat, are difficult to measure. To test the trade-off between message alignment and accessibility, we designed an artificial lexicon where word m...
Preprint
The ability to rapidly recognize words and link them to referents in context is central to children's early language development. This ability, often called word recognition in the developmental literature, is typically studied in the looking-while-listening paradigm, which measures infants' fixation on a target object (vs. a distractor) after hear...
Presentation
Infants learn about the world through direct perceptual experience and linguistic input. Infants who are blind, deaf/hard of hearing (DHH), and typically-developing infants have different access to sensory input. Is this accompanied by differences in spoken language experiences overall or within perceptually-centric adjectives? We use naturalistic...
Preprint
Yarkoni’s analysis clearly articulates a number of concerns limiting the generalizability and explanatory power of psychological findings, many of which are compounded in infancy research. ManyBabies addresses these concerns via a radically collaborative, large-scale and open approach to research that is grounded in theory-building, committed to di...
Article
To acquire novel words, learners often need to integrate information about word meanings across ambiguous learning events distributed in time. How does the temporal structure of those word learning events affect what learners encode? How do the effects of temporal structure differ in children and adults? In the current experiments, we asked how 4-...
Article
How do learners gather new information during word learning? One possibility is that learners selectively sample items that help them reduce uncertainty about new word meanings. In a series of cross‐situational word learning tasks with adults and children, we manipulated the referential ambiguity of label‐object pairs experienced during training an...
Article
Interpreting and predicting direction of preference in infant research has been a thorny issue for decades. Several factors have been proposed to account for familiarity versus novelty preferences, including age, length of exposure, and task complexity. The current study explores an additional dimension: experience with the experimental paradigm. W...
Article
Non-adjacent dependencies are ubiquitous in language, but difficult to learn in artificial language experiments in the lab. Previous research suggests that non-adjacent dependencies are more learnable given structural support in the input – for instance, in the presence of high variability between dependent items. However, not all non-adjacent depe...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Do people perceive shapes to be similar based purely on their physical features? Or is visual similarity influenced by top-down knowledge? In the present studies, we demonstrate that top-down information-in the form of verbal labels that people associate with visual stimuli-predicts visual similarity as measured using subjective (Experiment 1) and...
Preprint
To acquire novel words, learners often have to integrate information about word meanings across ambiguous learning events distributed in time. How does the temporal structure of those word learning events affect what learners encode? How do the effects of temporal structure differ in children and adults? In the present studies, we asked how 4- to 7...
Article
The field of infancy research faces a difficult challenge: some questions require samples that are simply too large for any one lab to recruit and test. ManyBabies aims to address this problem by forming large-scale collaborations on key theoretical questions in developmental science, while promoting the uptake of Open Science practices. Here, we l...
Article
Full-text available
Psychological scientists have become increasingly concerned with issues related to methodology and replicability, and infancy researchers in particular face specific challenges related to replicability: For example, high-powered studies are difficult to conduct, testing conditions vary across labs, and different labs have access to different infant...
Preprint
Full-text available
Interpreting and predicting direction of preference in infant behavioral research has been a thorny issue for decades. Several factors have been proposed to account for familiarity and novelty preferences in habituation and familiarization studies, including infant age, length of exposure and task complexity. The current study explores an additiona...
Article
This article reviews two aspects of human learning: (1) people draw inferences that appear to rely on hierarchical conceptual representations; (2) some categories are much easier to learn than others given the same number of exemplars, and some categories remain difficult despite extensive training. Both of these results are difficult to reconcile...
Preprint
Does language reflect the categories of our mind or does it help create them? On one widespread view (cognitive priority), learning a language involves mapping words onto pre-existing categories, leaving little room for language to change the structure of conceptual content. On another view (linguistic priority), conceptual structure is shaped by e...
Article
What are the cognitive consequences of having a name for something? Having a word for a feature makes it easier to communicate about a set of exemplars belonging to the same category (e.g., "the red things"). But might it also make it easier to learn the category itself? Here, we provide evidence that the ease of learning category distinctions base...
Preprint
The field of infancy research faces a difficult challenge: some questions require samples that are simply too large for any one lab to recruit and test. ManyBabies aims to address this problem by forming large-scale collaborations on key theoretical questions in developmental science, while promoting the uptake of Open Science practices. Here, we l...
Preprint
Distributional semantics as a source of visual knowledge: Commentary on Kim, Elli, and Bedny (2019), PNAS [Supplementary Materials: http://rpubs.com/mll/504479]
Article
Learning the meanings of words involves not only linking individual words to referents but also building a network of connections among entities in the world, concepts, and words. Previous studies reveal that infants and adults track the statistical co-occurrence of labels and objects across multiple ambiguous training instances to learn words. How...
Preprint
What are the cognitive consequences of having a simple word for something? Here, we provide evidence that the ease of learning category distinctions based on simple visual features is predicted from the ease of naming those features. Across two experiments, participants learned categories composed of colors (Experiment 1A-1B), shapes (Experiment 2A...

Citations

... For example, the vast majority of looking-while-listening studies test infants' ability to recognize a small set of familiar words (e.g., dog) given prototypical exemplars of each word (e.g., Golden Retrievers). Manipulating stimulus properties parametrically (Pomper et al., 2021;Pomper & Saffran, 2019;Zettersten, Weaver, & Saffran, 2022) and establishing greater variety in stimuli through large-scale data collection (Visser et al., 2022;Zettersten et al., 2021) can help establish effects of cross-stimulus variability and improve our understanding of the factors driving infant behaviour. ...
... For example, the vast majority of looking-while-listening studies test infants' ability to recognize a small set of familiar words (e.g., dog) given prototypical exemplars of each word (e.g., Golden Retrievers). Manipulating stimulus properties parametrically (Pomper et al., 2021;Pomper & Saffran, 2019;Zettersten, Weaver, & Saffran, 2022) and establishing greater variety in stimuli through large-scale data collection (Visser et al., 2022;Zettersten et al., 2021) can help establish effects of cross-stimulus variability and improve our understanding of the factors driving infant behaviour. ...
... Most studies show that by age 5-6 years, most children accurately recognize and label static images of facial configurations on tasks similar to the one used here similarly to adults [39]. However, on the broader issue of how humans construe and understand emotions, there are significant changes in conceptual understanding between 6 year olds and adults [40]. The earlier research, using the same data that in this study, showed that for each year child became older, the odds of correctly identifying an emotion became 1.05 times larger [30]. ...
... This is in line with recent work (e.g. Lupyan, 2012;Lupyan & Zettersten, 2020) suggesting that problem difficulty increases as description length increases and as nameability (the ease with which a concept can be named) decreases; and that language biases perceptual processing towards certain concepts. Furthermore, we find a negative correlation (r=-0.50) between average description length and average accuracy per task. ...
... Another example comes from recent work on improving reliability in looking-while-listening measures of infant word recognition (Zettersten et al., 2021). These tasks track eye movements to quantify accuracy in fixating on a target referent after it is named (e.g., Find the book). ...
... The ability to estimate confidence during language comprehension could play an important role throughout language development. For instance, confidence estimates could be used by children to optimise how they allocate attention during learning (e.g., attending to situations in which they have low-confidence in their interpretation of words, see Zettersten and Saffran (2019)). Moreover, confidence estimates could also guide children's interrogative behaviors: low confidence in having understood a word would be a signal for children to request clarification from their caregivers, either behaviorally or through verbal requests (Bazhydai et al., 2020;Butler et al., 2020;Hembacher et al., 2020;Jimenez et al., 2018). ...
... In contrast, our study tested the spontaneous preference as indicated by longer looking times for one type of stimulus (the one that should be more familiar to the infant given its higher frequency in the daily speech input) compared to another type of stimulus that should be more unfamiliar (or novel) given its lower frequency in the daily speech input. However, the direction of preferences in the HPP seems to be subject of a number of influencing factors like stimulus complexity, duration of exposure during the experiment, the infant's individual developmental status (Hunter et al., 1983;Roder et al., 2000) or even infants' familiarity with the testing procedure (Santolin et al., 2020). Therefore, the same stimuli can elicit familiarity and novelty effects in infants of different ages (Colombo & Bundy, 1983) or even in infants of the same age depending on their lexical development (DePaolis et al., 2016). ...
... Vlach and colleagues have found that 16-month-old toddlers learn best when there is little delay between presentations of a word-object pair in a CSWL task, while 20-month-old's learn best with more delay (Vlach & DeBrock, 2017Vlach & Johnson, 2013). Benitez, Zettersten & Wojcik (2020) found that 4-to 7-year-old children learned equally successfully with massed or interleaved presentation while adults benefited substantially from massed object presentation (see also, Kachergis et al., 2009;Smith et al., 2011;Yurovsky & Frank, 2015). In all of these cases, what people learn over time is affected by the trial sequence because the sequence of trials changes what learners do over time on each trial. ...
... Though the initial goal of this collaboration was to address the "replication crisis" in psychology, a fortuitous by-product was that the psychological phenomena of interest were being tested across diverse contexts, thus allowing an examination of how internal cognitive processing manifested across varying environmental constraints. Researchers of bilingualism can adopt similar cross-regional approaches in data collection, and some already have for language development (e.g., the productive ManyBabies consortium, Byers-Heinlein, Bergmann, Davies, Frank, Hamlin, Kline, Kominsky, Kosie, Lew-Williams, Liu, Mastroberardino, Singh, Waddell, Zettersten & Soderstrom, 2020). This effort harkens back to MacWhinney's groundbreaking efforts to crowdsource linguistic data in children and adults (CHILDES, MacWhinney, 2000), and Bates' efforts to create a multilingual picture naming repository (Bates, D'Amico, Jacobsen, Székely, Andonova, Devescovi, Herron, Lu, Pechmann, Pléh, Wicha, Federmeier, Gerdjikova, Gutierrez, Hung, Hsu, Iyer, Kohnert, Mehotcheva, Orozco-Figueroa, Tzeng & Tzeng, 2003). ...
... Exaggerated pitch in IDS has been found to play an important role in affect regulation of young infants and in the transmission of maternal emotional and communicative intent to the infant (Fernald, 1992;Kitamura & Burnham, 2003;Song, Demuth, & Morgan, 2010;Spinelli & Mesman, 2018;Stern, Spieker, Barnett, & MacKain, 1983). Furthermore, it has been proposed that exaggerated pitch in IDS aids language acquisition by attracting and maintaining infants' attention to the speech stream (Cooper & Aslin, 1990;Fernald & Simon, 1984). ...