When Do Children Understand “Opposite”? Purpose The aims of the present research were to determine (a) the age at which children with typical development understand the concept of opposite, (b) whether this is related to other cognitive abilities or experiences, and (c) whether there is early implicit understanding of the concept. Method Children ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2015
When Do Children Understand “Opposite”?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Catherine I. Phillips
    University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Penny M. Pexman
    University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Penny M. Pexman: pexman@ucalgary.ca
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Jenny Roberts
    Associate Editor: Jenny Roberts×
Article Information
Development / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2015
When Do Children Understand “Opposite”?
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2015, Vol. 58, 1233-1244. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0222
History: Received August 11, 2014 , Revised November 14, 2014 , Accepted April 25, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2015, Vol. 58, 1233-1244. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0222
History: Received August 11, 2014; Revised November 14, 2014; Accepted April 25, 2015

Purpose The aims of the present research were to determine (a) the age at which children with typical development understand the concept of opposite, (b) whether this is related to other cognitive abilities or experiences, and (c) whether there is early implicit understanding of the concept.

Method Children (N = 204) between 3 and 5 years of age were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions in a novel opposite task. Children's language and working memory skills were assessed, and parents provided information about children's access to learning materials about opposites.

Results In the opposite task, 4- and 5-year-olds, but not 3-year-olds, demonstrated acquisition of the concept of opposite. Children demonstrated this understanding only when asked for the “opposite” one, suggesting that antonymy was not made salient by stimulus properties alone. Children's accuracy was not significantly related to their language or working memory skills, to their child care experience, or to whether parents reported having books or games about opposites or playing opposite word games with children. Eye gaze analyses provided no evidence for early implicit understanding of the concept of opposite.

Conclusion Children with typical development have a concept of opposite by 4 years of age.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council postgraduate doctoral scholarship to Catherine I. Phillips and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Discovery Grant (435-2013-0096) to Penny M. Pexman.
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