Children's comprehension of social misunderstandings in dyadic peer interactions
Aloian, Samuel D.
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The present study investigated children’s comprehension of social misunderstandings. Kindergarten, second-grade, and fourth-grade children were read illustrated stories describing social misunderstandings. Children were asked to infer each story characters’ emotions, interpretations, explanations of interpretations, attributions, motivations, and explanations of the misunderstanding to a third person as well as reality. Results indicated that kindergarten, second, and fourth graders were equally able to infer characters’ emotions, interpretations, and the reality of the situation. However, an agerelated increase was found in children’s ability to (a) identify misinterpretations, (b) explain characters’ interpretations, and (c) predict how a character might explain the misunderstanding to a third person. In sum, older children’s utilization of knowledge of a character’s past interpretations to explain subsequent perceptions suggests a conceptualization of social misunderstandings as cyclical. Such a conceptualization should make them better able to resolve misunderstandings and prevent conflict.