Parents play an important role in children’s language development. To our knowledge, no studies have compared fathers’ and mothers’ use of gestural and verbal communication in dyadic versus triadic contexts. This study aimed at analyzing similarities and differences in the bimodal communication of parents when they playalone with their infant and when all three play together. Twelve Italian-speakingfamilies with infants aged 16 months took part in the study. Dyadic and triadic free-play interactions of mothers and fathers with their infants were videotaped.Mothers’ and fathers’ communicative acts (i.e., ‘only speech’, ‘only gesture’,‘speech + gesture’), and types of gestures (i.e., deictic, representational, and emphatic) were coded. Results showed that infants experience mothers’ and fathers’ bimodal communication when interacting with both parents. In the dyadic context, mothers produced more communicative acts and more verbal communication than fathers who in turn used more gestures and ‘speech + gesture’ communicative acts than mothers. Both parents used gestures to clarify and reinforce their verbal communication in dyadic and triadic contexts. With respect to the triadic context, no differences between mothers’ and fathers’ verbal and non-verbal communication emerged. Comparing each parent across the two contexts, findings showed that in the triadic context, mothers increased their use of gestural communicative acts and decreased their use of mixed acts, whereas fathers increased their verbal component while decreasing their ‘speech + gesture’ communicative acts. It seems that in the triadic context there is a coordination between parents that leads them to align with the kind of communication provided to the infant. Thus, the input experienced by infants in the triadic context is still equally composed of both verbal and non-verbal communication. Results are discussed considering the role of parents’ bimodal communication within several daily interactional contexts.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.