Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 217–233 | Cite as

Giving Memory a Hand: Instructing Children to Gesture Enhances their Event Recall

  • Elizabeth Stevanoni
  • Karen Salmon


To investigate the influence of different kinds of gesture on children’s memory, 60 6- to 7-year-old children participated in an event conducted by the experimenters (“visiting the pirate”) and were interviewed to assess memory for the event approximately 2 weeks later. Children were assigned to 1 of 4 conditions; in 3 conditions, gesture was possible (gesture-instructed, gesture-modelled, gesture-allowed) whereas in the fourth condition (gesture-not allowed), children’s hands were constrained. The amount of gesture engaged in was limited but was greatest in the gesture-instructed condition. Children in the gesture-instructed condition, who were asked to gesture during the interview, recalled more than did those in the other conditions. Further, relative to children in the gesture-modelled and gesture-allowed conditions, children in the gesture-instructed condition conveyed significantly more information in gesture that had not also been reported verbally. Although further research is necessary to understand the underlying mechanism, the findings suggest that instructing children to gesture as well as verbally recall an experience has cognitive and communicative benefits.


children event memory instructed gesture spontaneous gesture 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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