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Young children's understanding of the cognitive verb forget

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 1997

ROSLYN HILL
Affiliation:
Aston University
GLYN M. COLLIS
Affiliation:
University of Warwick
VICKY A. LEWIS
Affiliation:
School of Education, The Open University

Abstract

Investigation of children's understanding of the cognitive verb forget has shown that young children do not consider the role of prior knowledge when using this verb. Thus, someone may be said to have forgotten a fact despite not ever having previously known it. However, forget can also be used to refer to a failure to recall a prior intention. Three experiments examined the role of prior intention as well as prior knowledge in the comprehension of forget by 160 young children aged four to eight years. The results showed that children initially have two interpretations of forget: as an unfulfilled desire rather than a failure to recall a prior intention, and as a state of not knowing rather than a failure to recall prior knowledge. Explanations for the late comprehension of forget are discussed in terms of representation of knowledge and intention, processing capacity and exposure to pragmatic usages.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1997 Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

This research was carried out while the first author was supported by a Research Studentship from the (UK) ESRC. The authors wish to thank all the children, teachers and parents who were involved in this study, without whose co-operation this research would not have been possible.
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