“Much of what we know about the world is learned from other people,” said Yuanyuan Wang from Ohio State University in the US. “This is especially true for young children.”
The research team wanted to determine what age group was most influential to two-year-old toddlers based on how they pick up new words. To evaluate this, they set up two experiments.
‘Kids may be more adept at picking up the speech patterns of their peers. Toddlers are interested in the development of their own speech patterns and maybe extra attuned to the sound of other child speakers that match their own.’
In the first experiment, toddlers watched side-by-side video clips of two speakers reciting a nursery rhyme while listening to a speech that matched either the age or gender of one of the two speakers.
In the second experiment, toddlers were taught new words during a learning task using speakers of different ages.
The researchers found the toddlers learned new words more effectively from their peers.
“It is fascinating to learn children showed selected learning from other child talkers. This has implications for social cognition and selective social learning,” said wang.
The study suggests that this ability to learn selectively from a particular social group may serve as a foundation for developing preferences among social groups later in life.
The study is scheduled to be presented at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America being held from May 13-May 17 in Kentucky, US.