Effects of Caregiving Experience on Perception of Infant Vocalizations

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Roenneburg, Haley; Molik, Lily; Lindberg, Emily; Pletka, Rebecca; VanderLogt, Jena
Social and Behavioral Sciences
article description
Caregivers’ responses to infant babbling have long-term effects on infant language learning. However, the factors that influence caregivers’ responses are not well understood. We hypothesize that caregiving experience impacts responses to and perceptions of infant vocalizations. To explore this hypothesis, we compared the responses of inexperienced non-mothers with non-mothers who had experience working with infants under two (e.g. childcare workers). Participants viewed a series of prerecorded audio-visual examples of infants vocalizing and were asked to provide an immediate response. Then, they were asked to rate each vocalization on a seven-point scale, which denoted how speech-like the babble sounded. Preliminary results suggest caregiving experience did influence perception of infant vocalizations as experienced and inexperience non-mothers significantly differed in their ratings of the quality of the vocalizations. We also compared the speech-ratings to previously collected data on mothers. Experienced non-mothers rated the vocalizations more similarly to mothers than inexperienced non-mothers. Analyses of differences in participant responses to the vocalizations are still ongoing. Determining how experienced and inexperienced caregivers respond to infant vocalizations clarifies our knowledge of the factors that influence infant language acquisition. Since most childcare providers in the U.S. are non-mothers, understanding the impact of caregiving experience on responding has potential implications for shaping infant language learning.