Journal of Child Language

Maternal responsive and directive behaviours and utterances as predictors of children's lexical development 1

a1 Northern Illinois University
a2 Aurora University

Article author query
masur ef   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
flynn v   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
eichorst dl   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Predictive relations were examined between measures of 20 mothers' behavioural and verbal general and specific responsiveness and intrusive and supportive directiveness and their children's subsequent expressive vocabularies during three developmental periods with endpoints at the beginning, middle, and end of the second year: 0;10 to 1;1, 1;1 to 1;5, and 1;5 to 1;9. Regression analyses, controlling for mothers' utterance frequencies and children's initial lexicons, revealed considerable consistency between reported and observed lexicons but changing patterns of predictive relations with development. During the first period, behavioural, but not verbal, measures of maternal responsiveness and supportive directiveness were positively predictive. In period two, verbal, but not behavioural, measures predicted children's vocabularies, with specific responsiveness and supportive directiveness as positive predictors and intrusive directiveness as a negative predictor. During the final period, mothers' behavioural and verbal responsiveness and behavioural supportive directiveness positively predicted and their verbal intrusive directiveness negatively predicted children's lexical growth.

(Received January 16 2003)
(Revised April 22 2004)

c1 Elise Frank Masur, Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA. e-mail:


1 This research was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant HD37587 to the first author. The authors thank Gerald Mahoney for providing videotapes for training coders to use the Maternal Behavior Rating Scales (revised), Jennifer E. Nolten and Margaret Turner for coding, the reviewers and statistical consultants for comments and advice, and the participating children and mothers.