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Mothers and Two-Year-Olds: A Study of Sex-Differentiated Aspects of Verbal Interaction NICHD USPHS

Cherry, Louise J.; Lewis, Michael
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), United States Public Health Service (USPHS), Mothers, Parent Child Relationship, Play, Preschool Children, Sex Differences, Verbal Communication


This study was conducted to provide information on how verbal aspects of mother-child interaction are differentiated by sex of child. Twelve White, upper middle-class, English-speaking mothers and their 2-year-old children were studied in a spontaneous play situation. The mean differences for motherma compared with mother-female dyads on 12 measures of quantitative and qualitative aspects of speech showed mothers of female children talked more, asked more questions, repeated their children's utterances more often, and used longer utterances compared with mothers of male children. Mothers of male children used more directives compared wtth mothers of female children. These results suggest a continuity of a similar pattern of greater verbal quantity and responsivity for mother-female compared with mother-male dyads. (18pp.)

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