Infant preference for both male and female infant-directed talk: a developmental study of attentional and affective responsiveness.

  • Werker J
  • McLeod P
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This research increases our understanding of infants' preference for "motherese" by demonstrating that this preference extends to infant-directed talk (IDT) delivered by males as well as females and that infants show both more attentional responsiveness and more affective responsiveness to IDT than to adult-directed talk (ADT). Infants aged 4-5.5 and 7.5-9 months were shown video recordings of male and female adults reciting identical scripts in either IDT or ADT. Attentional preference was measured by the amount of time the infants watched in each condition, and affective responsiveness was measured by two trained raters. Overall, it was found that infants of both ages show greater attentional and affective responsiveness to IDT than to ADT when spoken by either a male or a female. The younger group was also found to be more responsive, on both measures, than the older group. Of perhaps greater significance, it was shown that the behaviour infants displayed in response to IDT makes them more attractive to naive adult judges. This suggests that IDT may facilitate and maintain positive adult-infant interactions.

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  • J. F. Werker

  • P. J. McLeod

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