Are Chinese and German children taxonomic, thematic, or shape biased? Influence of classifiers and cultural contexts

Mutsumi Imai, Henrik Saalbach, Elsbeth Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the effect of classifiers on young children's conceptual structures. For this purpose we studied Mandarin Chinese- and German-speaking 3- and 5-year-olds on non-lexical classification, novel-noun label extension, and inductive inference of novel properties. Some effect of the classifier system was found in Chinese children, but this effect was observed only in a non-lexical categorization task. In the label extension and property generalization tasks, children of the two language groups show strikingly similar behavior. The implications of the results for theories of the relation between language and thought as well as cultural influence on thought are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberArticle 194
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberDEC
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec 1



  • Categorization
  • Classifiers
  • Cognitive development
  • Cultural psychology
  • Inductive reasoning
  • Linguistic relativity
  • Word learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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