Whole object bias is a cognitive bias that refers to the tendency to interpret words as referring to whole objects rather than their parts or features. This bias is particularly evident in children's early word learning and is thought to reflect the influence of the way language is typically used in daily interactions.
For example, when a child learns the word "ball," they are more likely to assume that the word refers to the whole object, rather than its shape or color. This bias can lead to errors in word learning, particularly for words that are used to refer to parts of objects (e.g., "handle" or "wheel").
Research has shown that the whole object bias is not universal and may vary across cultures and languages. Some languages, such as Mandarin, may have a stronger bias towards attending to object parts than whole objects.