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Understanding the psychology of a trickster tale: 5-year-old Japanese kindergarten children collaboratively retelling a kitsune story

Journal article
Authors A. Oshiro
Agneta Pihl
Louise Peterson
Niklas Pramling
Published in International Research in Early Childhood Education
Volume 8
Issue 1
Pages 58-74
ISSN 1838-0689
Publication year 2017
Published at The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 58-74
Language en
Keywords Collaborative narrative, retelling, understanding, mental state verbs, kindergarten, mind
Subject categories Pedagogy, Didactics, Learning, Children

Abstract

How children understand the psychology of a story (i.e., the intentions and experiences of its characters) is pivotal to comprehending its point. In this study we investigate empirically how 5-year-old children in a Japanese kindergarten manage mental state verbs and adjectives when collaboratively retelling a tale heard. The tale, an example of a kitsune trickster story about anthropomorphized foxes interacting with humans, contains a number of critical events concerning expected and actual discrepancy between intentions/expectations and outcomes of actions. The empirical data consist of collaboratively retold stories. These have been recorded and transcribed. Theoretically, the study is informed by a sociocultural perspective, emphasizing the appropriation of the intramental function of cultural tools (importantly, in this case, of mental state discourse) through intermental communication, such as joint storytelling. The findings show how the children make use of mental state verbs and adjectives denoting psychological (intellectual and emotional) processes when retelling the story as well as afterwards for rendering their impressions of the story.

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