Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

McCabe, Ann,


Psychology, Developmental.




In the present study the stability of parental directive speech styles was examined across contexts and over time. Two variations in contexts were considered--setting and group size. Comparisons were made of parental speech styles between two settings: freeplay and supper, and two group sizes: dyads and polyads. A developmental comparison was also conducted, evaluating the speech used at two supper sessions that were spaced six months apart. The parental speech styles examined were concerned with the use of follow versus lead utterances, i.e., utterances which related to the child's current focus of attention (follow), or utterances which were unrelated to the child's current attentional focus (lead), and with the use of direct versus indirect directives. Furthermore, the relationship between parental directive speech style and children's language use was also explored. A total of 24 children and their families were videotaped on three occasions: during freeplay, during supper and again during supper, six months later. The children had a mean age of either 21 months or 27 months at the initial taping session. lt was determined that the different contextual settings were related to variations in parental speech styles. During freeplay, parents were found to use more follow utterances, more declaratives and questions, and more time was spent in a joint attentional focus with the child. In comparison, the supper setting was associated with a greater use of lead utterances and directives, particularly lead directives and direct directives. In the second set of analyses, the general findings indicated that within dyadic interactions, parent and child only), parental speech was comprised of more declarative utterances and more time was spent in joint attention. Within polyadic groups (three or more participants), there was a tendency toward greater directive use, particularly during supper. For the developmental analyses, a decrease in the use of direct directives was observed from time 1 to time 2. However, other expected decreases in directive use with older children were not seen. This result was considered to be a reflection of the use of the supper context, rather than standard play contexts. The investigation of parental directive speech styles and child language suggested a positive relationship between parental use of follow utterances and child vocabulary and total number of utterances, and a negative association between parental use of lead utterances and these child language variables. The findings of this study support that variations in parental directive speech style are influenced by contextual factors, and thus these contextual factors warrant consideration in language research.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1995 .I44. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 57-07, Section: B, page: 4745. Adviser: Ann McCabe. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1995.