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Conceptualising and Assessing Young Children's Knowledge of Television Advertising within a Framework of Implicit and Explicit Knowledge

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Developmental psychology has come a long way since Piaget proposed the first major theory of cognitive development. Although he laid much of the groundwork for understanding children's thinking, Piaget's notion of age-related stages has largely been refuted. Surprisingly, however, much of the literature concerning children's understanding of TV advertising is still couched in Piagetian terms, frequently in an attempt to identify the age at which children understand a particular aspect of advertising. In this paper we argue for the utility of more recent theories of development in furthering understanding of the nature of children's knowledge about television advertising. The models of Karmiloff-Smith (1992) and Siegler (1996) are discussed, providing a valid alternative to older age-stage models of development and placing more emphasis on non-verbal representations and cognitive variability. In the past an over-reliance on children's verbal responses may have led to an underestimation of what children really know. In this paper we argue that children can have knowledge that they are unable to articulate and that 'ways of knowing' is a more appropriate framework than 'age of knowing'. The study described investigated 73 children's understanding of the advocatory nature of messages produced for the purposes of self-promotion and for advertising. The findings suggest that, although young children may show a lack of understanding in their verbal responses, the use of non-verbal measures can reveal some implicit understanding in children from 4 years of age.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2003

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