A Developmental Lexical Bias in the Interpretation of Discrepant Messages

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Children's interpretations of lexical and vocal cues to speaker affect, independently and in combination, were examined in four studies. In Experiments 1 and 2, 7- to 11-year-olds' judgments of lexical and paralinguistic cues were evaluated. In Experiment 3, these cues were combined to produce consistent and discrepant messages. The affective interpretations of 7- to 10-year-olds reflected a weighted-averaging strategy favoring the affect conveyed lexically. In Experiment 4, the developmental trajectory of children's interpretations of discrepancy from 4 to 10 years of age was investigated. Both 4- and 7-year-olds appeared to use a weighted-averaging strategy favoring lexical content, whereas 10-year-olds utilized a strategy favoring paralanguage.

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Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, v. 46, issue 2, p. 342-369