Preschool children’s use of meta-talk to make rational collaborative decisions

Kirstie Hartwell, Silke Brandt, Laura Boundy, Grace Barton, Bahar Köymen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In collaborative decision-making, partners compare reasons behind conflicting proposals through meta-talk. We investigated UK-based preschoolers’ (mixed socioeconomic status) use of meta-talk (Data collection: 2018–2020). In Study 1, 5- and 7-year-old peer dyads (N = 128, 61 girls) heard conflicting claims about an animal from two informants. One prefaced her claim with “I know”; the other with “I think”. Dyads identified the more reliable informant through meta-talk (“She said she knows”). In Study 2, 3- and 5-year-olds (N = 64, 34 girls) searched for a toy with an adult partner making incorrect proposals. Children refuted this through reporting what they had witnessed (It cannot be there because “I saw it move”, “she moved it”). In preschool period, children start using meta-talk to make rational collaborative decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1061-1071
Number of pages11
JournalChild Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


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