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The communicative interactions of 15 dyads of four- to five-year-olds
during pretend play involving routine, or scripted, events were investigated
as a function of the children's knowledge of the scripts. Measures
of the quantity and quality of interaction and the strategies that the
children used to establish mutual knowledge (i.e. assess and adapt to
their discourse partner's level of expertise), which is essential to good
communication, were examined. Each dyad participated in a MATCHED
condition (both members had extensive knowledge of the script) and a
MISMATCHED condition (one member had extensive script knowledge and
the other did not). Shared script knowledge facilitated communicative
interactions, as indicated by more topic maintenance and fewer requests
for clarification in the matched condition than in the mismatched
condition. The children attempted to establish mutual knowledge more
frequently in the mismatched condition than in the matched condition
and, moreover, mutual knowledge establishment was related to the
children's communicative effectiveness.
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