A Comparative Study on Representational Gestures in Italian and Japanese Children

Paola Pettenati*, Kazuki Sekine, Elena Congestrì, Virginia Volterra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


This study compares words and gestures produced in a controlled experimental setting by children raised in different linguistic/cultural environments to examine the robustness of gesture use at an early stage of lexical development. Twenty-two Italian and twenty-two Japanese toddlers (age range 25-37 months) performed the same picture-naming task. Italians produced more spoken correct labels than Japanese but a similar amount of representational gestures temporally matched with words. However, Japanese gestures reproduced more closely the action represented in the picture. Results confirm that gestures are linked to motor actions similarly for all children, suggesting a common developmental stage, only minimally influenced by culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-164
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-cultural/linguistic comparison
  • Gestures
  • Picture naming
  • Toddlers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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