Using ratings to gain insight into conceptual development

Mary Alt, Christina Meyers, Paul M. Alt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: The authors explored a novel technique with potential for assessing conceptual development. Participants rated how "normal" to "really weird" an image was in order to determine whether (a) participants would rate images by amount of variation (slight/significant) from the standard image, (b) participants would treat variation related to different concepts equally, or (c) there would be developmental differences in these ratings. Then, authors asked whether children with specific language impairment (SLI) would demonstrate weaker conceptual skills based on their ratings. Method: Adults and school-age children (with and without SLI) used a 9-point equal-appearing interval scale to rate photographic images of animals. These included standard images and images that altered the animals' shape, pattern, color, and facial morphometry. Results: Significant differences in ratings were obtained for adults compared with typically developing children and children with SLI compared with their age-matched peers. This is in line with the expectation that adults have stronger representations than children, as do typical children compared with those with SLI. Participants differentially rated images that varied from the standard image (slight/significant) for all parameters except shape. Conclusion: Probing conceptual representations without the need for verbal response has the potential for exploring conceptual deficits in SLI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1650-1661
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Conceptual
  • Ratings
  • Semantic
  • Specific language impairment
  • Typicality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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