Creel, S. C. (2012). Preschoolers’ use of talker information in on-line comprehension. Child Development, 83(6), 2042–56. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01816.x
A crucial part of language development is learning how various social and contextual language-external fac- tors constrain an utterance’s meaning. This learning process is poorly understood. Five experiments addressed one hundred thirty-one 3- to 5-year-old children’s use of one such socially relevant information source: talker characteristics. Participants learned 2 characters’ favorite colors; then, those characters asked participants to select colored shapes, as eye movements were tracked. Results suggest that by preschool, chil- dren use voice characteristics predictively to constrain a talker’s domain of reference, visually fixating the talker’s preferred color shapes. Indicating flexibility, children used talker information when the talker made a request for herself but not when she made a request for the other character. Children’s ease at using voice characteristics and possible developmental changes are discussed.