Teachers' Impressions of Children Varying in Pragmatic Skills

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Many behaviors and characteristics contribute to teachers' impressions of their students and affect teachers' judgments of such qualities as competence and likeability. Among these behaviors are pragmatic skills, the appropriate use of language in social contexts. One hundred fifty-three experienced school teachers listened to one of five audiotaped conversations between a girl and a school librarian, then rated the girl on several scales. In one tape the girl requested, took turns, responded when spoken to, and maintained the logic of the conversation appropriately. In the others she used pragmatic skills inappropriately. Tape condition had a significant effect on ratings of the girl's likeability. Teachers formed positive impressions of the girl when she used all pragmatic skills appropriately and when she failed to respond promptly when spoken to, and negative impressions of the girl in the other conditions. Implications of these results for teacher training and children's pragmatic and social skills training are discussed.

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Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, v. 12, issue 4, p. 397-412