Aaron V. Cicourel and Albert Katz
[Pragmatics & Cognition 4:2] 1996
► pp. 221–264
Ecological validity and 'white room effects'
The interaction of cognitive and cultural models in the pragmatic analysis of elicited narratives from children
Controlled elicitation of linguistic and psycholinguistic experimental data facilitate strong inferences about phonological, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic structures and functions, yet neglect the ecological validity of responses. Ecological validity in this paper refers to whether data gathered under controlled conditions are commensurate with routine problem solving and language use in natural settings. All methods produce "white room" effects that compromise data gathering and analysis. Unexamined folk knowledge and experiences also guide the investigator s interpretation of data from field research, laboratories, testing sessions, and target sentences. Story recall data from children in a combined second-third grade classroom and their narrative responses to cartoons without sound are used to illustrate ecological validity issues. The child's spontaneous, imaginative narratives about the story and cartoons resemble adult folk theory, and their semantic content reveal sociocultural knowledge essential for understanding subjects ' reasoning and information processing skills.
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