This research was supported by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canada Research Chairs Program, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation awarded to S.G. and a SSHRC SRG awarded to E.N. We thank the parents and children who participated in the study. The authors also thank Melanie Khu, Natasha Nickel, Kim Tan-McNeil, and Claudia Bustos for their assistance with this research. Data from this study were presented at the Society for Research in Child Development 2008 Biennial Meeting.
The Development of Preschoolers’ Appreciation of Communicative Ambiguity
Article first published online: 12 APR 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc
Volume 83, Issue 4, pages 1400–1415, July/August 2012
How to Cite
Nilsen, E. S. and Graham, S. A. (2012), The Development of Preschoolers’ Appreciation of Communicative Ambiguity. Child Development, 83: 1400–1415. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01762.x
- Issue published online: 13 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 12 APR 2012
Using a longitudinal design, preschoolers’ appreciation of a listener’s knowledge of the location of a hidden sticker after the listener was provided with an ambiguous or unambiguous description was assessed. Preschoolers (N = 34) were tested at 3 time points, each 6 months apart (4, 4½, and 5 years). Eye gaze measures demonstrated that preschoolers were sensitive to communicative ambiguity, even when the situation was unambiguous from their perspective. Preschoolers’ explicit evaluations of ambiguity were characterized by an initial appreciation of message clarity followed by an appreciation of message ambiguity. Children’s inhibitory control skills at 4 years old related to their explicit detection of ambiguity at later ages. Results are discussed in terms of the developmental progression of preschoolers’ awareness of communicative ambiguity.