Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 November 2008
Since the publication of Nelson's (1973) monograph, a number of studies have documented negative relationships between referential style and some form of maternal directiveness. However, the precise nature of these relationships is still far from clear. The present study represents an attempt to resolve this confusion by investigating the relationship between different measures of maternal directiveness and different measures of referential style in the same group of eight mother–infant dyads. A distinction is made, first, between attentional directiveness and behavioral directiveness, and, second, between referential vocabulary measures based on a fixed number of vocabulary items (i.e., 50 words) and measures taken at particular age points (in this case, 1;4). Correlational analysis of these different measures shows not only that attentional and behavioral directiveness are not significantly related, but also that they are differentially predictive of different measures of referential style. Attentional directiveness is significantly related to referential style at 1;4, but not to referential style at 50 words; behavioral directiveness is significantly related to referential style in the child's subsequent 50 words, but not to referential style at 1;4. These findings suggest that, although the attentional regulation hypothesis may be potentially useful in explaining differences in children's actual rate of vocabulary development, it may be less valuable as a means of explaining stylistic variation in early vocabulary composition. This conclusion underlines the need to distinguish relationships between mothers' interactional behavior and stylistic variation in their children's early language from more general effects of maternal behavior on children's overall rate of language development.
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