Instantiation of word meanings in children

Richard C. Anderson, Kathleen C. Stevens, Zohara Shifrin, Jean H. Osborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has shown that adults tend to narrow the meanings of words encountered in context, a process that has been termed instantiation. In the present study, 60 first and fourth graders selected pictures which best represented the meanings of sentences read to them. The sets of pictures included three examples of a target word in each sentence, one of which best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole. The children selected the contextually most appropriate picture over 90% of the time. The results indicate that the children were instantiating the target words with specific concepts rather than bringing to mind abstract, undifferentiated meanings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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