Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Interaction Cues as Predictors of the Topic of Infant Directed Speech




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Infant development occurs within a highly structured context (Thelen, 1994). Caregivers provide stimulation, information and feedback to their infants through a variety of communication channels including touch, gaze and production of sounds. The current investigation examines the relationship of two contextual cues, touch and utterance type, to the topic of adults' speech to infants. Naturalistic adult-infant interactions were videotaped and adults' speech to infants was transcribed. Each utterance was coded for Topic: Object v. non-object, utterance type: question or declarative and touch: whether and how caregivers made physical contact with their infant during an utterance. Of 4665 utterances, 79% were about objects and 27% of utterances involved touch. Using a GEE model, Utterance type, touch and their interaction were tested as predictors of object status (Object v. non-object) using a logistic regression model. Sex and age of the infant were considered as possible co-variates and as neither was significantly related to topic of conversation they were dropped from the model.

Conference Name

International Conference of Infancy Studies

Conference Location

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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