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Three-year-olds’ inferences of speakers’ mental states using disfluency in speech

  • THE KOREAN JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
  • 2015, 28(4), pp.261-274
  • Publisher : The Korean Society For Developmental Psychology
  • Research Area : Social Science > Psychological Science

주나래 1 Youngon Choi 1

1중앙대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Disfluencies (i.e., pauses, insertions, repetition and replacement of words, phrases, or sentences) are common in speech. Disfluencies provide several interpretations about a speaker depending on the context. The present study examined: 1) acoustic characteristics of disfluent phrases—especially those that mark hesitation—compared to those fluent phrases with the exact same words and 2) whether 3-year-olds are able to infer a speaker’s mental states using disfluencies. The disfluent “uh” that shows speakers’ hesitation was longer and lower-pitched than the fluent “uh” that indicates speakers’ positive responses. In a food/snack offering situation, experimenter asked two adults about their preferences for the item. One answered with hesitation “uh” while the other answered fluently without hesitation. Three-year-olds reliably selected the speakers who answered without hesitation as the recipient of the offered item. It indicates that 3-year-olds are sensitive to the subtle differences in speech and utilized the hesitation marker to infer speakers’ mental states.

Citation status

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