Exploring Cross-Situational Learning and Mutual Exclusivity

Abstract

Cross-situational learning and mutual exclusivity are strategies proposed to explain the learning of word-meaning mappings. In this paper, seven possible strategies are explored and compared to the results of an artificial word learning experiment. The fixed order of trials in the experiment allows for an exposure-by-exposure approach to explore the individual learning process of words. The experiment shows that adult learners do indeed integrate knowledge from previous exposures, however they have difficulty in keeping track of cross-situational information for learning all twelve word-meaning mappings, although some learners can. The performance of 78 participants is compared to simulations in which various combinations of strategies were modeled. The results suggest that a random strategy with mutual exclusivity as its sole learning mechanism could explain the performance in the experiment. In this strategy, the learner selects an object at random from the context, provided that this object has not received a label yet.


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