British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 6 Issue 3 (September 1988), Pages 207-301

Linguistic processes in disagreements occurring in young children's dyadic problem solving (pages 275-284)

Conflict and collaboration between children have been postulated as causal mechanisms in cognitive development, but the constitutive processes of such interaction patterns remain largely unstudied and unspecified. This study examined dyads of young children as they worked together on a goal‐directed problem‐solving task. Pairs of 7‐ and 9‐year‐old children were classified as joint or disjoint collaborators on the basis of their early interaction, enabling predictions to be made regarding the linguistic processes during disagreements. Dividing disagreements into antecedent, opposition and resolution events enabled comparisons to be made between dyads regarding the specific linguistic processes of disagreements. While the dyadic types were more similar than different, it was found that disjoint dyads required more language to solve their disputes and joint dyads marked disagreements in ways that promoted social monitoring or identified the specific cause of the disagreement. Older children disagreed more but acknowledged the social nature of the problem‐solving task and the need to communicate. Such verbal use of problem‐solving strategies may allow young children to benefit cognitively from working together.

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