NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1078701
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Feb
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0142-7237
Cognitive Flexibility Supports Preschoolers' Detection of Communicative Ambiguity
Gillis, Randall; Nilsen, Elizabeth S.
First Language, v34 n1 p58-71 Feb 2014
To become successful communicators, children must be sensitive to the clarity/ambiguity of language. Significant gains in children's ability to detect communicative ambiguity occur during the early school-age years. However, little is known about the cognitive abilities that support this development. Relations between cognitive flexibility and ambiguity detection were assessed in preschool (4- to 5-years-old, n = 40) and school-age (6- to 7-years-old, n = 36) children. Children rated the quality of clues (unambiguous/ambiguous) to the location of hidden stimuli provided by a videotaped speaker. Cognitive flexibility was assessed through a task requiring children to sequentially sort toys. Both age groups rated ambiguous clues as less helpful than unambiguous clues; however, school-age children were better able to detect ambiguity. Cognitive flexibility was related to preschool (but not school-age) children's communicative ambiguity detection, when controlling for age and receptive language. Results suggest that cognitive flexibility may be particularly important for the initial development of ambiguity detection.
SAGE Publications. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320. Tel: 800-818-7243; Tel: 805-499-9774; Fax: 800-583-2665; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Test of Language Development
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A