Resolving Interpretive Ambiguity in Text: Children's Generation of Multiple Interpretations

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Do young children realize that an outcome in a story that has ambiguous causes (due to the presence of multiple clues) may have more than one interpretation? If so, what factors influence which interpretation is chosen first? These questions were addressed in four experiments using second- and fourth-grade children, and a number of story variables were manipulated. The results showed that both groups of children were skilled at providing two interpretations, although the second graders were more likely to go beyond the story and utilize extrastory information in their second interpretations. Additionally, the first interpretations were heavily influenced by factors that promoted concept accessibility, such as clue recency, the presence of titles, and the influence of final biasing sentences.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Penn State York

Publication date: March 1, 1997

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