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Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 189–204 | Cite as

Gesture Frequency Linked Primarily to Story Length in 4–10-Year Old Children’s Stories

  • Elena Nicoladis
  • Paula Marentette
  • Samuel Navarro
Article

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that older children gesture more while telling a story than younger children. This increase in gesture use has been attributed to increased story complexity. In adults, both narrative complexity and imagery predict gesture frequency. In this study, we tested the strength of three predictors of children’s gesture use in a narrative context: age, narrative complexity (measured by discourse connectors), and use of imagery (measured by story length). French-, Spanish-, and English-speaking children between 4 and 10 years participated in this study. Including these three groups allows us to test for the generalizability of our results and for cross-linguistic differences in gesture frequency. All the children watched cartoons and retold the story. The results showed that the length of the story was a significant predictor of children’s gesture rate while age and discourse connectors were not. There were no differences between language groups. One possible in interpretation of these results is that children’s gesture frequency is strongly linked to activation of imagery.

Keywords

Gesture Narrative development Cross-linguistic comparisons Storytelling Imagery 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Nicoladis
    • 1
  • Paula Marentette
    • 2
  • Samuel Navarro
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.University of Alberta, Augustana CampusCamroseCanada
  3. 3.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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