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Why Young Listeners Do Not Benefit from Differentiating Verbal Redundancy

Susan Sonnenschein
Child Development
Vol. 55, No. 3 (Jun., 1984), pp. 929-935
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130144
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130144
Page Count: 7
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Why Young Listeners Do Not Benefit from Differentiating Verbal Redundancy
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Abstract

Previous research has shown that young listeners, unlike older ones, do not benefit from verbal redundancy because of developmental differences in the decision criterion used when responding. Could some of the developmental differences in how listeners respond to redundant communications be due to their drawing age-related different conclusions about what the speaker meant to convey with the utterance? This study investigated whether young listeners make certain, perhaps unwarranted, assumptions about speaker authoritativeness. First and fourth graders heard stories in which a protagonist had to respond to what could be interpreted as redundant directions. They were asked to judge how the protagonist would respond. Stories varied in terms of both the age and the certainty of the speaker. Possible response options varied on how the protagonist utilized and hence responded to the "verbal redundancy." The results indicated that when there are no explicit markers indicating speaker certainty, young children make different inferences than older ones about speaker meaning. Thus, these data help to show the importance of determining how listeners in a communicative interaction judge and interpret what they hear.

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