Browsing by Author "Nilsen, Elizabeth S."
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- ItemOpen AccessThe development of preschoolers' appreciation of communicative ambiguity(Society for Research In Child Development, 2012-01) Nilsen, Elizabeth S.; Graham, SusanUsing 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.
- ItemOpen AccessAn examination of communicative interactions of children from Romanian orphanages and their adoptive mothers(Canadian Psychological Association : Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 2014-01) Graham, Susan; Nilsen, Elizabeth S.; Mah, Janet W. T.; Morison, Sara J.; MacLean, Kim; Fisher, Lianne; Brooks, Brian L.; Ames, Elinor WardwellBefore adoption to Canada, children from Romanian orphanages experienced conditions of global deprivation. In this study, we examined the communicative interactions of 4-year-old children adopted from Romania with their adoptive mothers and those of age-matched Canadian-born children. In general, children who had spent more than 8 months in a Romanian orphanage (later adoptees; n = 27) did not differ in the types of communicative intents produced in unstructured interactions from their earlier-adopted peers (n = 21). Later adoptees did produce more acknowledgment utterances, fewer praise utterances, and more requests than the Canadian-born children (n = 27). Mothers of later-adopted children adopted from Romanian orphanages used more frequent regulatory language than mothers of earlier-adopted or Canadian-born children. Mothers’ increased regulation of their child’s activity through language was related to their child’s attachment style and attention difficulties, which significantly differed between the child groups. The results demonstrate that children’s characteristics can influence caregivers’ communicative behaviours. Importantly, results suggest that children from adverse conditions adopted into healthier environments do not show long-term differences in pragmatic or social language usage.
- ItemOpen AccessExamining the Role of Attention and Intention in Two-year-olds’ Acquisition of Novel Words(Enfance, 2011-09) Graham, Susan; Nilsen, Elizabeth S.; Friesen, Chris Kelland; Johnson, JenniePrevious studies have demonstrated that infants will use an adult’s eye-gaze direction to identify the intended referent of a novel word (e.g., Baldwin, 1991). Here we examine the possibility that eye-gaze may be triggering attention to an object because of the directional nature of eye-gaze itself. In the first study, we demonstrated that 24-month-olds mapped a novel word to a novel object that had appeared at the location cued by a non-referential cue (i.e., flashing lights). The results of the second study, however, suggest that gaze direction cues do not operate in a similar fashion to non-referential cues. That is, while cueing a specific object with a gaze direction cue led infants to map a novel word to that object, cueing an object location with gaze direction did not result in meaningful word learning. These findings suggest that infants view gaze direction as a marker of intentionality.
- ItemOpen AccessPreschoolers' sensitivity to referential ambiguity: evidence for a dissociation between implicit understanding and explicit behavior(Blackwell, 2008-07) Nilsen, Elizabeth S.; Graham, Susan; Smith, Shannon; Chambers, Craig G.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.
- ItemOpen AccessPreschoolers' word mapping: The interplay between labelling context and specificity of speaker information(Cambridge University Press : Journal of Child Language, 2008-10) Nilsen, Elizabeth S.; Graham, Susan; Pettigrew, Tamara L.We assessed the effect of specificity of speaker information about an object on three-year-olds’ word mappings. When children heard a novel label followed by specific information about an object at exposure, children subsequently mapped the label to that object at test. When children heard only specific information about an object at exposure, they inferred that the label applied to a different object at test. Finally, non-specific information did not assist children in mapping a word to an object. Thus, children use speaker information as a word-mapping cue but this information is interpreted differently depending on how the discourse is initiated.
- ItemOpen AccessThe relations between children's communicative perspective-taking and executive functioning(Elsevier, 2009-03) Nilsen, Elizabeth S.; Graham, SusanTwo experiments investigated children's communicative perspective-taking ability. In Experiment 1, 4- to 5-year-old children were tested on two referential communication tasks, as well as on measures of inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Results document children's emergent use of the perspective of their speaking partner to guide their communicative behaviors in both a production and comprehension task. In Experiment 2, 3- to 4-year-old children used a speaker's perspective to guide their interpretation of instructions. In both experiments, egocentric interpretations of speaker requests were negatively correlated with children's inhibitory control skills. Results of these studies demonstrate that young children can differentiate between information that is accessible to the speaker versus privileged knowledge, and use this information to guide their communicative behaviors. Furthermore, the results suggest that children's inhibitory control skills allow them to inhibit their own perspective, enabling them to make use of their communicative partner's perspective.
- ItemOpen AccessThe role of gaze direction and mutual exclusivity in guiding 24-month-olds' word mappings(British Psychological Society : British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 2010-06) Graham, Susan; Nilsen, Elizabeth S.; Collins, Sarah J.; Olineck, Kara M.In these studies, we examined how a default assumption about word meaning, the mutual exclusivity assumption and an intentional cue, gaze direction, interacted to guide 24-month-olds' object-word mappings. In Expt 1, when the experimenter's gaze was consistent with the mutual exclusivity assumption, novel word mappings were facilitated. When the experimenter's eye-gaze was in conflict with the mutual exclusivity cue, children demonstrated a tendency to rely on the mutual exclusivity assumption rather than follow the experimenter's gaze to map the label to the object. In Expt 2, children relied on the experimenter's gaze direction to successfully map both a first label to a novel object and a second label to a familiar object. Moreover, infants mapped second labels to familiar objects to the same degree that they mapped first labels to novel objects. These findings are discussed with regard to children's use of convergent and divergent cues in indirect word mapping contexts.