Date of Award

Winter 1981

Project Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Recently, certain aspects of story production, comprehension, and recall have stirred up much interest within psychology. Most of this research has focused on these story processes in adults; less work has been done on the development of story knowledge in young children. This dissertation explored the similarities and differences among nursery school, first and second grade children, and adults. Each individual was asked to produce an oral story after having viewed a set of story-book pictures.

The stories were evaluated on several different dimensions which included: the thoughts, intentions and emotions of the characters, how single elements from the pictures were integrated together, the linguistic terms used to connect events together, and specific aspects of the story descriptions that were given for the pictures.

The results suggested some interesting differences between children and adults. In producing a story, children did not focus on the explicit intentions or thoughts of the characters as the adults did. The children were much less likely than the adults to integrate the events depicted in different pictures in a systematic fashion. The children also more often linked their story together using temporal terms such as then and now while the adults used either causal connections such as because or the ambiguous condition, and.

Overall, the results suggested there are qualitative as well as quantitative differences in the story schemata used by children and adults. However, there were also certain surprising similarities between children and adults especially in the linguistic features of the story. What remains to be determined is whether the observed qualitative differences reflect a specialized story knowledge or only a more generalized world knowledge.