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dc.contributor.authorWylie, Breanne
dc.date.accessioned2022-08-19T18:43:02Z
dc.date.available2022-08-19T18:43:02Z
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10464/16524
dc.description.abstractWithin adult-child interactions, where children may be the target of coercion, it is important for children to understand and accurately describe their experiences. Coercive language is expressed using deontic modals, distinguishing between terms of obligation (i.e., implying compliance is required) and permission (i.e., implying compliance is optional). Children’s ability to understand and use coercive language is particularly relevant within applied legal settings where children may be required to testify about coercive tactics, and jurors may use this information to form perceptions about the case. Across three studies, my dissertation examined children’s understanding and use of coercive language, and the influence of using terms of obligation and permission on jurors’ perceptions of children’s reports. In Study 1, I examined 160 3- to 6-year-olds' understanding of the deontic modals tell and ask (referring to obligations and permissions) compared to their epistemic understanding of these terms (referring to knowledgeable and ignorant conversationalists), and the role of theory of mind in their understanding. In Study 2, I examined attorney and children’s use of coercive language within 64 transcripts of children’s testimony for cases involving alleged sexual abuse. In Study 3, I examined the influence of coercive language and maltreatment type on 160 adults’ perceptions of coercion and the child, as well as their judicial decision making. Overall, children’s understanding of the terms tell and ask emerged around 5 years of age, supported by their developing theory of mind. Additionally, children (as young as 6 years) and attorneys used terms of obligation and permission to describe coercion, and jurors were sensitive to these linguistic differences, perceiving children using terms of obligation as more coerced and the adult as more to blame. Of benefit, jurors’ decision making was not influenced by language, but rather focused on the nature of the abuse. Altogether these studies provide insight into children’s developing understanding of coercive language and suggest that even when used appropriately by 5 years of age, terms of permission minimize perceptions of coercion and adult blame. These findings demonstrate the need for educating adults about factors (e.g., coercive language) that may influence their perceptions of children’s disclosure.en_US
dc.language.isoengen_US
dc.publisherBrock Universityen_US
dc.subjectcoercionen_US
dc.subjectdeontic modalsen_US
dc.subjectlinguistic developmenten_US
dc.subjectchild testimonyen_US
dc.subjectjuror perceptionen_US
dc.titleChildren’s Developing Use and Understanding of Coercive Language: Applications in a Legal Settingen_US
dc.typeElectronic Thesis or Dissertationen
dc.degree.namePh.D. Psychologyen_US
dc.degree.levelDoctoralen_US
dc.contributor.departmentDepartment of Psychologyen_US
dc.degree.disciplineFaculty of Social Sciencesen_US


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