Mothers' production of hand gestures while communicating with their preschool children under various task conditions

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Hand-gesturing behavior produced by mothers communicating with their first-born 2-3 or 4-5 yr olds was investigated. 32 mother-child pairs were assigned to groups balanced equally for age and sex. The mother-child pairs were observed under 1 task designed to determine the children's linguistic level and 4 randomly ordered tasks designed to measure gesture. The gesture tasks included an event description task, a storytelling task, an object description task, and a toy manipulation task. The 1st 2 min of each task were videotaped and analyzed for frequency of gestures and type of gestures produced. Results indicate that task and age significantly influenced the frequency of gesture types. The object description task evoked the most gestures and the toy manipulation task evoked the least. Mothers of older children tended to produce a greater number of gestures and also more complex types of gestures than mothers of younger children, indicating that mothers do make developmental adaptations in their gesture behavior while communicating with their children. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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