Talking happy and sad with technology: Effects of presentation conditions and emotional valence on story retell

This dissertation investigated the nature of story presentation for children’s retelling in order to obtain a narrative sample. Two studies were conducted. One study compared audio narration delivered through headphones versus live narration to investigate the perception of a naïve listener. A second study compared stories containing positive versus negative emotions to examine differences in children’s retells and talk about emotions.


Study 1:


Children may tell more complete narratives when retelling stories to a person perceived to be a naïve listener. Given the difficulty of having a naïve listener, this study examined strategies for perception of a naïve listener in story retells for assessing narratives. Stories were presented by video to 22 preschool children (ages 4;1 to 5;3). Condition 1 included researcher narration, and condition 2 embedded narration by a voice different from the listener and delivered through headphones. Retells were analyzed for macrostructure (Index of Narrative Complexity [INC] total scores and number of times INC narrative elements were included) and microstructure (total number of words, number of different words, number of c – units or MLUm).

The only difference was between the number of times INC narrative element, causal adverbial clauses, was included in the two conditions, with more produced in condition 2. While results of this study indicate that headphone delivered narration may not create the perception of a naïve listener, it may result in equal quality of retells as in researcher narrated stories. This may provide choices for educators to select the appropriate modality for children’s retelling given the context of present-day technological usage.


Study 2 :


Children’s narratives about events that elicit positive versus negative emotions may differ and may have a broader quality of communication for negative emotion. Given that how children retell stories may guide educators in providing opportunities for children to develop social communication, this study examined retells of stories depicting positive versus negative emotions and responses to questions about characters and events. Video stories, depicting positive versus negative emotion, were presented to 22 preschool children (ages 4;1 to 5;3). Macrostructure in the retells (measured by the Index of Narrative Complexity) and talk about emotions (measured by number of emotion labels, number of different emotion labels) and action/attempts (rated by a rubric score for quality of response) were analyzed.

The only significant result was the difference between the number of times complication was included in retells, with a greater number in the negative condition. Positive and negative emotions may both be used in fictional stories depicting social scenarios to develop opportunities to assess and talk about facets of social communication.

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