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Mental state language and quality of conversational experience in deaf and hearing children

Journal article
Authors G. Morgan
Marek Meristo
W. Mann
Erland Hjelmquist
L. Surian
M. Siegal
Published in Cognitive development
Volume 29
Issue 1
Pages 41-49
ISSN 0885-2014
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 41-49
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cogdev.2013.10...
Keywords Conversation, Deaf, Social cognition
Subject categories Cognitive science

Abstract

Deaf children of hearing parents show a protracted delay in performance on 'theory of mind' measures that suggests they encounter difficulties in acquiring knowledge of false beliefs and other mental states. Considerable evidence indicates that children's early experience of adults' mental state talk predicts their later social-cognitive development. However, no previous study has analyzed very young deaf children's access to conversation about mental states. We compared the conversational turn-taking and input of hearing parents to deaf and hearing children aged 17-35 months in the UK and Sweden. Mothers of hearing children used far more cognitive mental state language with their infants and their conversations were characterized by more communicatively effective turn-taking than mothers of deaf children. Across two different cultures, these findings indicate that conversations differ significantly in these aspects of interaction thought to be crucial for later social-cognitive development. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

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