Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Douglas Behrend

Committee Member

Ellen Leen-Feldner

Second Committee Member

William Levine


Language Development, Memory, Whispering


Oral communication is one of the primary tools children use to learn new information and speech registers can deliver additional meaning to the words someone uses. Cirillo’s (2004) vigilance hypothesis states “Whispering can affect the psychobiological state of recipients, and in particular raise their auditory vigilance” (Cirillo, 2004, p. 76). Building on this theory, the current study investigates the role of whispering and children’s memory by examining a whispering vigilance, whispering salience which focused on the changes between normal and whisper registers, and combined vigilance and salience hypotheses to determine if whispering contributes to the recall of information. Using video animations participants were presented normal and whispered a register combination. Characters in these animations carried out a simple conversation in either a whispered or normal base register before the target information was spoken in a whispered or normal register before finishing the conversation in the base register. Participants were then given a cued recall question to assess their memory for the target information. Results demonstrated that whispering does not play a role in the recall of target information of any of the hypotheses. Rather than whispering impacting the informational knowledge, participants in the current study may have used whispering and the register changes to provide details about the speaker’s intentions. Future studies should continue to investigate the ways in which children learn to navigate the unique characteristics and communicative function of whispered speech.