African American Preschoolers' Emotion Explanations Can Provide Evidence of Their Pragmatic Skills

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Abstract

This study provides qualitative and quantitative evidence of how an emotion explanation task can reflect African American preschoolers' pragmatic skills. We used an emotion explanation task to assess pragmatic skills among 19 children (aged 3–5 years) related to (1) engaging in conversational turn-taking, (2) answering Wh- questions, (3) engaging in communicative perspective-taking, (4) producing coherent discourse for exposition, and (5) demonstrating an understanding that emotions can be attributed to interpersonal interactions and situational events. The majority of children were capable of demonstrating their pragmatic skills during this task. Children's responses to the task were independent of their performance on standardized receptive vocabulary or expressive language assessments but not their performance on assessments of prosocial skills. There was a strong, positive significant association between children's ability to explain a puppet's happiness and their prosocial skills, even after controlling for age. Practical and clinical implications of this work are discussed.

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