Individual differences in structural priming in children: the influence of perspective-taking.
Abstract. Structural priming refers to reusing the syntactic structure of the interlocutor. Children differ in the extent to which they are primed (primeability). Previous research has suggested that an individual’s level of perspective-taking, i.e., the ability to imagine the feelings, thoughts and perceptions of others (McDonald & Messinger, 2011), predicts the magnitude of priming in adults (Horton, 2014). The present study investigates if this also holds for monolingual and bilingual children. In Experiment 1, we primed the possessive structure in monolingual Dutch children. In Experiment 2, we did the same with a group of bilingual children with varying L2s. In both experiments, there was individual variation in children’s primeability. For both monolingual and bilingual children, we found that the priming effect was predicted by children’s language proficiency and perspective-taking abilities. These findings suggest that structural priming serves a social function which is mediated by perspective-taking abilities.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen