The Role of Naming in Stimulus Categorization by Preschool Children
Naming is defined as a higher-order behavior class that involves the establishment of a bi-directional relation between a class of objects/events and the speaker-listener behavior they occasion. The purpose of the current study was to assess whether children would categorize unfamiliar pictures when taught the listener and speaker behaviors separately. A category-sort test was used to assess emergent conditional relations. Category-sort trials consisted of looking at (Test 1) or tacting (Test 2) a sample and selecting the remaining comparisons. In Experiment 1, four children (3-5 yrs.) were taught to tact the category (i.e., north and south) of pictures of six U.S. state maps, and were assessed to see whether they would (1) categorize and (2) select them when hearing their category names (listener behavior). Two of the children categorized the pictures during Test 1 after pairwise tact training. The other two categorized after receiving additional tact training with all pictures grouped together. However, one of them only categorized during Test 2. When children failed to categorize, they also performed poorly on stimulus selection. In Experiment 2, four children (3-5 yrs.) were taught to select pictures when hearing their category names and were assessed to see whether they would (1) categorize and (2) tact them (speaker behavior). One child categorized the pictures during Test 1, and two during Test 2. The other child required additional training with all pictures grouped together. When participants failed to categorize, they also failed to tact the pictures accurately. Taken together, results from Experiment 1 and 2 show that both speaker and listener behaviors have to be present for categorization to occur. Thus, naming seemed to play an important, if not essential, role in the development of categorizations.