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Development of the understanding of the polysemous mental state verb "know"


Booth JRJames , Hall WSWilliam . Cognitive Development. 1995 10 ; 10(4). 529-549


This study investigated children’s understanding (3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-year-olds) of the different levels of meaning of the cognitive verb know as defined by the Hall, Scholnick, and Hughes (1987) abstractness and conceptual difficulty hierarchy. We found that cognitive verb knowledge increased with development and that certain low levels of meaning were mastered before certain high levels of meaning irrespective of the medium of presentation: video-taped “skits” and audio-taped “stories.” However, children developed an understanding of low levels of meaning at a more rapid rate than high levels of meaning. This resulted in a more differentiated and hierarchical cognitiveverb knowledge in older children. Finally, we found that the audio-taped stories were more difficult than the video-taped skits, and that both tasks were significantly correlated with a standardized vocabulary measure for all ages except the 3-year-olds. The implications of this study and others for a model of the cognitive-verb lexicon are discussed.