Gesturing along the way: adults’ and preschoolers’ communication of route direction information

Elizabeth E. Austin*, Naomi Sweller

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)

    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)199-220
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
    Volume42
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

    Keywords

    • gesture
    • spatial
    • recall
    • preschoolers
    • adults

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