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Gesturing Along the Way: Adults’ and Preschoolers’ Communication of Route Direction Information

Abstract

Speakers routinely produce gestures when conveying verbal information such as route directions. This study examined developmental differences in spontaneous gesture and its connection with speech when recalling route directions. Children aged 3–4 years and adults were taken on a novel walk around their preschool or university and asked to verbally recall this route, as well as a route they take regularly (e.g., from home to university, or home to a park). Both children and adults primarily produced iconic (enacting) and deictic (pointing) gestures, as well as gestures that contained both iconic and deictic elements. For adults, deictic gestures typically accompanied phrases both with description (e.g., go around the green metal gate) and without description (e.g., go around the gate). For children, phrases with description were more frequently accompanied by iconic gestures, and phrases without description were more frequently accompanied by deictic gestures. Furthermore, children used gesture to convey additional information not present in speech content more often than did adults, particularly for phrases without description.

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Notes

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    There are no effect sizes for multinomial logistic multilevel model main effects and interactions at this time, however odds ratios for simple effects are reported.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth E. Austin.

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Austin, E.E., Sweller, N. Gesturing Along the Way: Adults’ and Preschoolers’ Communication of Route Direction Information. J Nonverbal Behav 42, 199–220 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10919-017-0271-2

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Keywords

  • Gesture
  • Spatial
  • Recall
  • Preschoolers
  • Adults