Poster Title (Current Submission)

Differences in prelinguistic communication between male and female infants and their caregivers

Major(s)

Psychology

Minor

Human Relations

Mentor Department

Psychology

Presentation Date

3-26-2011

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that infant vocalizations are sensitive to social stimulation and that contingent maternal behavior can promote more complex and mature vocal behavior. Few studies have examined differences in communication between male and female infants or differential maternal responses. In this study, we examined male and female communicative acts during attentionally-directed vocalizations (vocalizations while playing with a toy and alternating eye gaze to the mother) and maternal responses in 30 min. play sessions. We found that female infants displayed more conversational acts than males when they vocalized, such as requesting for an object or answering a question. Males displayed more gestural acts than females when they vocalized, such as giving an object to their mother or pointing to an object. Both male and female infants showed similar levels of vocalizing when they were manually manipulating a toy. Mothers responded to their female infants vocalizations with more vocal acknowledgments (“mmm-hmm”, “uh-huh”), while mothers with male infants responded more with behavioral actions and vocalizations. Follow-up studies are exploring the relationship between these differential behaviors and language development.

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Mar 26th, 12:00 AM

Differences in prelinguistic communication between male and female infants and their caregivers

Previous studies have shown that infant vocalizations are sensitive to social stimulation and that contingent maternal behavior can promote more complex and mature vocal behavior. Few studies have examined differences in communication between male and female infants or differential maternal responses. In this study, we examined male and female communicative acts during attentionally-directed vocalizations (vocalizations while playing with a toy and alternating eye gaze to the mother) and maternal responses in 30 min. play sessions. We found that female infants displayed more conversational acts than males when they vocalized, such as requesting for an object or answering a question. Males displayed more gestural acts than females when they vocalized, such as giving an object to their mother or pointing to an object. Both male and female infants showed similar levels of vocalizing when they were manually manipulating a toy. Mothers responded to their female infants vocalizations with more vocal acknowledgments (“mmm-hmm”, “uh-huh”), while mothers with male infants responded more with behavioral actions and vocalizations. Follow-up studies are exploring the relationship between these differential behaviors and language development.