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Seven-year-olds’ References to Internal States when Playing with Toy Figures and a Video Game

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Salim Hashmi, Amy L. Paine, Dale F. Hay

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2223
Issue number3
Accepted/In press24 Feb 2021
Published1 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The Cardiff Child Development Study has been supported by Medical Research Council Programme Grant GO400086 and Medical Research Council Project Grant MR/J013366/1. Amy L. Paine is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant reference: ES/T00049X/1). We thank the other members of the CCDS team and the participating families who have generously given their time to this study. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Infant and Child Development published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.



    ISL_Playmobil_and_Game_ICD_REVISION_COMPLETE_UNBLINDED.docx, 1.33 MB, application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document

    Uploaded date:25 Feb 2021

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

  • ICD_2223_JQA2.pdf

    ICD_2223_JQA2.pdf, 1.37 MB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:29 Apr 2021

    Version:Final published version

    Licence:CC BY

King's Authors


References to internal states (e.g., thoughts, feelings, and desires) indicate children's appreciation of people's inner worlds. Many children spend time playing video games; however, the nature of children's speech when doing so has received little attention. We investigated the use of internal state language (ISL) as 251 seven-year-olds played with toy figures and a video game designed for the study. Although children used ISL more when playing with toy figures, children used ISL in both contexts, highlighting video game play as a context where children demonstrate their appreciation of inner worlds. Children's speech in the two contexts differed in how ISL was used: references to children's own internal states were more common when playing the video game, and the characters' internal states more common when playing with the toy figures. These findings are discussed with reference to the format of the play activities affording different opportunities to discuss internal states. Highlights: In traditional play children refer to internal states, however, it is unclear whether this occurs when they play video games. Children referred to internal states when playing with toy figures and a video game, but did so more with the toys. Children's video game play can be used as a new context for the study of children's social understanding.

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