Children's acquiescence to polysemous implicature questions about coaching: The role of parental support

Breanne E. Wylie, Suzanne St. George, Kelly McWilliams, Angela D. Evans, Stacia N. Stolzenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Children may be asked questions with subtle and implied meanings. The present study examined whether, and under what conditions, 5- to 10-year-old children affirmed polysemous implicature questions that implied coaching, when in fact no coaching occurred. Participants (N = 161) were presented with vignettes about a transgression where the child disclosed to a supportive or unsupportive parent, and were asked three polysemous implicature coaching questions (e.g., “Did the mom practice with the boy/girl what to say?”). Overall, children acquiesced to implied coaching questions, when in fact no coaching occurred (39% of the time), though acquiescence rates decreased with age and improved false-belief understanding. Furthermore, children were more likely to acquiesce when the mother was supportive, and when the question more subtly suggested coaching. These findings provide novel evidence of the developmental trajectory of children's understanding of polysemous implicatures and the underlying social-cognitive mechanisms, with implications for questioning children in investigative contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101370
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Acquiescence
  • Child development
  • Coaching
  • Implied questioning
  • Polysemous implicature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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