ERIC Number: ED210118
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Preschoolers' Judgments of Speaker Status Based on Requests.
Becker, Judith A.
Children's ability to infer dominant or subordinate status of speakers from their requests was investigated. It was hypothesized that, for young children, syntactic indirectness, semantic softness, and a positive tone, in the absence of other cues, would serve as cues to indicate that a speaker is subordinate to a listener. Syntactic directness, semantic aggravators, and negative tone were hypothesized as cues of a speaker's dominance. Syntactic directness/indirectness, semantic markers, and tone of voice were identified as cues which signify status to a listener. Syntactic directness/indirectness measures how explicitly sentence structure indicates a request is being made, semantic markers involve words such as "please" or a threat, and tone of voice was used to differentiate between pleasant and aggressive requests. Sixteen 4 1/2- to 5-year-old boys and girls and sixteen 5 1/2- to 6-year-old boys and girls listened to eight pairs of stimulus sentences, each pair differing solely with respect to one of the hypothesized cues. One request in the pair was "directed" to each child by a doll while the other request in the pair was "addressed" to the child by an identical doll. After each pair of sentences, the child had to decide which doll was making requests "in a bossier way." In general, hypotheses were confirmed. (Author/DB/PW)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Dominant Behavior; Speech Discrimination; Subordination
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (Boston, MA, April 2-5, 1981).