The role of symbol-based experience in early learning and transfer from pictures: evidence from Tanzania.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1037/a0029483
Extensive exposure to representational media is common for infants in Western culture, and previous research has shown that soon after their 1st birthday, infants can acquire and extend new information from pictures to real objects. Here we explore the extent to which lack of exposure to pictures during infancy affects children's learning from pictures. Infants were recruited from a rural village in Tanzania and had no prior experience with pictures. After a picture book interaction during which a novel depicted object was labeled, we assessed infants' learning and transfer of the label from pictures to their referents. In a 2nd study, we assessed infants' learning and generalization of new names using real objects, rather than pictures. Tanzanian infants demonstrated a similar pattern of learning and generalization from real objects, when compared with infants in Western culture. However, there was a significant difference in learning and generalization from pictures to real objects. These findings provide evidence for the important role of early experience with representational media in children's ability to use pictures as a source of information about the world.