Non literal speech comprehension in preschool children - an example from a study on verbal irony
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The study aims to answer questions about the developmental trajectories of irony comprehension. In order to examine the understanding of ironic utterances and early Theory of Mind, 46 preschool children were tested with the Irony Comprehension Task (Banasik, Bokus 2012) and the Reflection on Thinking Test (Białecka-Pikul 2010) in three age groups: four-year-olds, five-year-olds and six-year-olds. The study showed no age effect in the Irony Comprehension Task and a significant effect in the Reflection on Thinking Test. On some of the measures, irony comprehension correlates with theory of mind. Also, an analysis of childrens’ narratives was conducted to observe how children explain the intention of the speaker who uttered the ironic statement. The children’s responses fall into four categories, one of which is related to prescribing the utterance a function similar to white lie.
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