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Regulation of behaviour by speech in pre-school children. McCracken, Merle Diane

Abstract

The role of the regulation of behaviour by speech was studied to determine whether it proceeded in the developmental progression suggested by A. R. Luria, the Russian psychologist. The Ss were 26 male and 28 female children between the ages of 41 and 73 months. The procedure involved the formation of a simple motor response to the onset of a coloured light. Luria’s hypothesis that the ability to verbally regulate behaviour is a function of age was substantiated. However, the transition period from external regulation of speech occurred approximately at age four in Canadian children, a year earlier than Russian children. In contradiction to Luria, the child's own verbalization of "press" and "don't press" while performing the task did not facilitate performance. Also, no support was obtained for Luria' s theory that verbal regulation proceeds from the inability to inhibit impulsivity to the ability to inhibit impulsivity. Finally, it was found that the child's ability to repeat instructions does not necessarily precede his ability to perform the task. Three factors which may have been responsible for the difference in results were discussed.

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