Japanese Psychological Research
Online ISSN : 1468-5884
Print ISSN : 0021-5368
Child-adult interaction in two conversational modes
Conversational asymmetry re-examined
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1985 Volume 27 Issue 3 Pages 133-144


Linguistic behavior of a 2-year-old and of four adults in dyadic interaction were examined in two conversational modes: One where the topic was about an on-the-spot object with object-related side activities involved, and the other where the topic was not about an on-the-spot object with no side activity involved. Cross-classified tables of speaking turns were analyzed to determine how the probabilities that one's turn included certain components (response, spontaneous utterance, question, confirmation) were influenced by mode and the partner's preceding turn. It was found that in the former mode, the child was more active and made spontaneous utterances frequently, responded well to “given” questions yet poorly to “new” ones; the adult asked fewer questions and responded with shorter confirmations. In contrast, in the latter mode, the child was reserved and made fewer spontaneous utterances, responded well to “new” questions yet poorly to “given” ones; the adult actively asked both “new” and “given” questions. Thus, dynamic variations of conversational asymmetry were observed and their implications for the child's development discussed.

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