The effect of inconsistent affective cues on children's judgments of speakers
MetadataShow full item record
What speakers say is sometimes incongruent with the manner in which it is said. As a result, listeners are exposed to inconsistencies in communication: for example, when a speaker’s words are discrepant with her demonstrated emotions (e.g., a positive statement said in a negative tone of voice). While inconsistencies may be exploited by speakers to produce nuanced communication (e.g., verbal irony), they also introduce ambiguity, which may render the speaker a less credible source of information. The present work outlines three studies examining the extent to which children make credibility discriminations based on the consistency of a speaker’s lexical and non-verbal cues. In Study 1, when children were provided the opportunity to solicit novel information from video-recorded speakers, or unknown speakers, school-age children (7- and 8- year-olds) preferred to solicit information from consistent speakers to a greater extent than inconsistent speakers (e.g., those who provided a negative statement in a positive tone of voice). In contrast, preschool-age children (4- and 5- year-olds) did not show a preference for consistency and avoided speakers who showed any negative valence (lexical or nonverbal). Study 2 demonstrated that school-age children’s preference for consistent speakers did not extend to a context where children had to decide whether to solicit information about a speaker’s personal preferences. Further, across Studies 1 and 2, school-age children’s ratings of speakers were influenced by speakers’ consistency when the attribute being judged was related to information acquisition (e.g., believability, weirdness of speech), but not when it was a general characteristic (e.g., friendliness, likeability). In Study 3, 9 and 10 year old children demonstrated flexibility in their credibility judgments by preferring to solicit information from inconsistent speakers if the speaker was aware of a situational context that normalized the inconsistency. Together the findings from the three studies indicate that school-age, but not preschool-age, children can detect emotional inconsistency in speaker cues, use this information to form speaker credibility judgments, and use contextual information to think flexibly about speakers’ credibility.
Cite this work
Randall Gillis (2015). The effect of inconsistent affective cues on children's judgments of speakers. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/9466