CHILDES Narrative English Peterson/McCabe Corpus

Carol Peterson
Department of Psychology
Memorial University, Newfoundland


Allyssa McCabe
Department of Psychology
University of Massachusetts, Lowell


Participants: 96
Type of Study: elicited personal narratives
Location: USA
Media type: no longer available
DOI: doi:10.21415/T5G886

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Citation information

This project is described in detail in:

Peterson, Carole, & McCabe, Allyssa, (1983). Developmental psycholinguistics: Three ways of looking at a child’s narrative. New York: Plenum Press.

In accordance with TalkBank rules, any use of data from this corpus must be accompanied by at least one of the above references.

Project Description

Ninety-six white, predominantly working class children, aged 3;6 to 9;6, chosen from a nursery school and an elementary school in a small town in Ohio, participated in this study. There were sixteen children, eight boys and eight girls, in each of the six yearly age ranges. The authors served as experimenters and half of the available subjects at each age and sex level were randomly assigned to each experimenter.

Rapport was estgablished with each child individually within the context of his of her classroom and playground. While the child was working on a paper construction project, he or she was given 18 verbal prompts, embedded in conversation, which consisted of short narratives about specific topics, such as car wrecks or hospital visits, found to be of interest to children in pilot testing. First the experimenter described a short story and then asked the children if anything similar had ever happened to them. Children produced an average of 11 narratives, mostly in response to the prompts. However, about a fifth of the narratives were produced spontaneously.

The narratives were then subjected to three types of analysis described in the book: high point analysis, episodic analysis, and dependency analysis.