An attentional learning account of the shape bias: Reply to cimpian and markman (2005) and booth, Waxman, and Huang (2005)

Linda B. Smith, Larissa Samuelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, Developmental Psychology published 2 articles on the shape bias; both rejected the authors' previous proposals about the role of attentional learning in the development of a shape bias in object name learning. A. Cimpian and E. Markman (2005; see record 2005-14938-017) did so by arguing that the shape bias does not exist but is an experimental artifact. A. E. Booth, S. R. Waxman, and Y. T. Huang (2005; see record 2005-05098-004), in contrast, concluded that the shape bias (and its contextual link to artifact categories) does exist but that the mechanisms that underlie it are conceptual knowledge and not attentional learning. In response, in this article the authors clarify the claims of the Attentional Learning Account (ALA) and interpretations of the data under question. The authors also seek to make explicit the deeper theoretical divide: cognition as sequestered from processes of perceiving and acting versus as embedded in, and inseparable from, those very processes. PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1339-1343
Number of pages5
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • Conceptual information
  • Conceptual knowledge
  • Infancy
  • Lexical acquisition
  • Shape bias
  • Taxonomic bias
  • Vocabulary development
  • Word learning

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