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Directive interactions and early vocabulary development: the role of joint attentional focus*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2009

Nameera Akhtar
Affiliation:
Dalhousie University
Frances Dunham
Affiliation:
Dalhousie University
Philip J. Dunham
Affiliation:
Dalhousie University

Abstract

Maternal directiveness, assessed by the mother's use of prescriptives, is correlated with slow vocabulary development. As prescriptives are most often used to redirect a child's attention to a different object or activity, it is hypothesized that attentional regulation underlies this negative relationship. In the present study, twelve mothers were videotaped interacting with their children aged 1;1, and 100 maternal utterances were coded for pragmatic intent. Prescriptives were coded as either changing (LEADING) or FOLLOWING the child's focus of attention. Only the frequency of mothers' FOLLOW-prescriptives correlated significantly with a productive vocabulary measure taken at 1;10. This correlation was high and positive, indicating that, given joint focus, directing a 13-month-old's behaviour can have beneficial effects on subsequent vocabulary development.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991

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Footnotes

*

This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Award 410-89-1477) to P.J.Dunham.

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