EMOTION EXPRESSIONS AND KNOWLEDGE OF STORY STRUCTURE: A STUDY OF MANDARIN-SPEAKING CHILDREN’S NARRATIVE DEVELOPMENT
The present study investigates developmental differences in Mandarin-speaking children’s use of emotion expressions in narratives and their relatedness to the narrators’ knowledge of story structure. Our data yield age-related differences in the use of emotion expressions. More importantly, the narrators’ emotion expressions seem to respond to different hierarchical levels in the story structure. In particular, the five-year-olds’ emotion expressions were mostly triggered by local, immediate situations. Most nine-year-olds’ emotion expressions were motivated by local situations, while few of them considered both local and global story structure. The adults’ attribution of emotion, however, was triggered by both local situations and the global story plotline, which served to enhance narrative coherence. In addition, the five-year-olds’ attribution of emotion mostly focused on one character in the story, while the adults’ attribution involved several characters, which suggests that the adults possess better ability in perspective-taking. Our data suggest that the use of emotion expressions may disclose narrators’ knowledge of story structure and reflect their ability in maintaining narrative coherence. Findings are discussed in relation to the development of event schema, theory of mind and the Three-Phase Model for problem-solving.
Key words: emotion expression, frog story, global, local, narrative coherence