A step at a time: An investigation of preschoolers’ simulations of narrative events during story comprehension
Polanowski Fecica, Agnieszka
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A growing body of work suggests that narrative comprehension involves the simulation of the events and actions described in a narrative (e.g., Barsalou, 2008; Matlock, 2004). Preliterate children’s ability to simulate a narrative character’s movements is explored here in three studies. Children’s simulations of a character’s movements were found to be constrained by their expectation of the duration of the described activities (i.e., walking vs. driving) and by their expectations about the motivating influence of certain psychological factors (i.e., character being eager or not eager to get to a location). Using a novel methodology these findings reveal an ability among preliterate children to create impressively rich and dynamic mental representations of narrative events and address. The implications of the present investigation speak to the larger issue of how human minds comprehend narratives and represent narrative events.