Title page for ETD etd-92498-10437

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Cooper, Jamie S.
Author's Email Address puff@vt.edu
URN etd-92498-10437
Title The Ability of Speaking Rate to Influence Infants' Preferences for Infant-Directed Speech
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cooper, Robin K. Panneton Committee Chair
Bell, Martha Ann Committee Member
Friedman, Bruce H. Committee Member
  • arousal
  • infant attention
  • infant-directed speech
  • visual attention
Date of Defense 1998-10-14
Availability unrestricted
Much research has examined how rate affects visual

preferences in human infants and auditory preferences in

avian infants. In the visual domain, it seems that human

infants prefer stimuli (e.g., flashing displays) presented at

faster relative rates. Research using avian species has

shown that ducklings, for example, prefer their species-

specific maternal call only when it is presented at values

close to the species-typical mean. These studies have shown

that experience affects ducklings' preferences for rate in

auditory events. Researchers in the areas of human infant

preferences for visual rate and avian infant preferences for

auditory rate have suggested that an effective window of

frequencies exists for which infants show maximal attention.

Unlike these two areas, little research has addressed how

rate affects human infants' preferences for auditory events.

A study by Cooper and Cooper (1997) was the first to find

that infants attend to rates of speaking infant directed (ID)

speech. Specifically, infants preferred ID speech at its

normal rate to ID speech at a faster rate. The present study

was intended to further investigate how rate of speaking

affected infants' preferences for ID speech. More

specifically, this study sought to determine whether a window

of effective rates also exists for infant preferences for

rate in ID speech. Using an infant-controlled preference

procedure, 20 six- to eight-week old infants were presented

with ID-normal speech (ID speech as its normal rate) and ID-

slow speech (ID speech slowed to half the normal rate). It

was found that infants looked longer to a visual display when

it was paired with ID-slow speech than when it was paired

with ID-normal speech. How these results relate to research

and theory on visual rate preferences in human infants and

auditory rate in avian species is discussed, as well as

future directions for this line of research.

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