Inference Generation During Discourse and Its Relation to Social Competence: An Online Investigation of Abilities of Children With and Without Language Impairment PurposeThis study examined whether young children with typical language development (TL) and children with language impairment (LI) make emotion inferences online during the process of discourse comprehension, identified variables that predict emotion inferencing, and explored the relationship of these variables to social competence.MethodPreschool children (16 TL and 16 LI) watched ... Article/Report
Article/Report  |   April 2008
Inference Generation During Discourse and Its Relation to Social Competence: An Online Investigation of Abilities of Children With and Without Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Janet A. Ford
    Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
  • Linda M. Milosky
    Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
  • Contact author: Janet A. Ford, who is now with the Department of Speech Pathology/Audiology, State University of New York at Cortland, P.O. Box 2000, Cortland, NY 13045. E-mail: fordj@cortland.edu.
  • © 2008 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Language
Article/Report   |   April 2008
Inference Generation During Discourse and Its Relation to Social Competence: An Online Investigation of Abilities of Children With and Without Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2008, Vol. 51, 367-380. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/027)
History: Received November 12, 2006 , Revised May 14, 2007 , Accepted July 2, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2008, Vol. 51, 367-380. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/027)
History: Received November 12, 2006; Revised May 14, 2007; Accepted July 2, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 12

PurposeThis study examined whether young children with typical language development (TL) and children with language impairment (LI) make emotion inferences online during the process of discourse comprehension, identified variables that predict emotion inferencing, and explored the relationship of these variables to social competence.

MethodPreschool children (16 TL and 16 LI) watched narrated videos designed to activate knowledge about a particular emotional state. Following each story, children named a facial expression that either matched or did not match the anticipated emotion. Several experimental tasks examined linguistic and nonlinguistic abilities. Finally, each child’s teacher completed a measure of social competence.

ResultsChildren with TL named expressions significantly more slowly in the mismatched condition than in the matched condition, whereas children with LI did not differ in response times between the conditions. Language and vocal response time measures were related to emotion inferencing ability, and this ability predicted social competence scores.

ConclusionThe findings suggest that children with TL are inferring emotions during the comprehension process, whereas children with LI often fail to make these inferences. Making emotion inferences is related to discourse comprehension and to social competence in children. The current findings provide evidence that language and vocal response time measures predicted inferencing ability and suggest that additional factors may influence discourse inferencing and social competence.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported, in part, by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation’s Arlene M. Matkin Student Research Grant in Early Childhood Language Development. The study was completed as part of the first author’s doctoral dissertation. We gratefully acknowledge Benita Blachman, Robin Chapman, Philip Doyle, Mary Louise Edwards, Barbara Fiese, and Elizabeth Skarakis-Doyle for their contributions.
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