Cross-cultural studies of gesture development

A cross-cultural comparison of Finnish and British children's gestures has been conducted by Professor Karen Pine, in collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.

The findings from this research (published in the Journal of Psycholinguistic Research and in J. Toyota, & P. Hallonsten, Eds Sense of Emptiness: Cognitive Perspectives) represent the first systematic comparison of these two populations and elucidate developmental trends in gesture production in children from two to five years old.

This programme of research has also identified universal features of children’s gestures as distinguishable from those that are culturally transmitted, which has important implications for speech and language therapists and furthers understanding of the interplay between gesture and speech during language development.


Huttenen, K., & PINE, K. J. (2012). Communication culture and gesture use. In (J. Toyota, & P. Hallonsten, Eds) Sense of Emptiness: Cognitive Perspectives, pp 94-111. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Huttunen, K., Pine, K. J., Thurnham, A, & Khan, C. (2012). The changing role of gesture in linguistic development: a developmental trajectory and a cross-cultural comparison between British and Finnish children. In press, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research.