ERIC Number: EJ849900
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jul
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 30
Preschoolers' Sensitivity to Referential Ambiguity: Evidence for a Dissociation between Implicit Understanding and Explicit Behavior
Nilsen, Elizabeth S.; Graham, Susan A.; Smith, Shannon; Chambers, Craig G.
Developmental Science, v11 n4 p556-562 Jul 2008
Four-year-olds were asked to assess an adult listener's knowledge of the location of a hidden sticker after the listener was provided an ambiguous or unambiguous description of the sticker location. When preschoolers possessed private knowledge about the sticker location, the location they chose indicated that they judged a description to be unambiguous even when the message was ambiguous from the listener's perspective. However, measures of implicit awareness (response latencies and eye movement measures) demonstrated that even when preschoolers had private knowledge about the sticker location, ambiguous messages led to more consideration of an alternative location and longer response latencies than unambiguous messages. The findings demonstrate that children show sensitivity to linguistic ambiguity earlier than previously thought and, further, that they can detect linguistic ambiguity in language directed to others even when their own knowledge clarifies the intended meaning.
Descriptors: Eye Movements, Linguistics, Figurative Language, Preschool Children, Child Development, Comprehension, Behavior, Cognitive Processes, Responses, Reaction Time, Verbal Communication
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
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