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The interaction between task, infant sex, and socioeconomic status in maternal infant-directed speech
Eva T. Davis
Katherine E. Rubinstein
Sara L. Teplow
May 10, 2016
Department or Program
We analyzed how low and high socioeconomic status (SES) mothers speak to their sons and daughters. Sixty archival videos of mother-infant interactions were transcribed and coded for 19 dependent variables to measure both quantity and quality of speech. Thirty-four mother-infant dyads completed a goal-oriented task, while 26 mother-infant dyads completed a free-play task. High SES mothers spoke marginally more to their infants than low SES mothers, regardless of task type or infant sex. Amongst high SES participants, mothers spoke marginally more to their female infants in the goal-oriented task, but spoke marginally more to their male infants in the free-play task. There were no task or infant sex differences in maternal speech observed for low SES mothers. Overall, these results suggest the importance of the intersectionality between context, infant sex, and SES, as they relate to maternal infant-directed speech. Keywords: maternal speech, socioecnomic status, infant sex, development