ManyBabies1: Quantifying sources of variability in infancy research using the infant-directed speech preference
- Start date: 1 May 2017
- End date: 1 April 2018
- Funder: APS
- Primary investigator: Michael Frank
- Co-investigators: Professor Catherine Davies
- External co-investigators: The ManyBabies Consortium
Partners and collaborators
Stanford University; The ManyBabies Consortium
Funded by the Association for Psychological Science
Research has shown that babies and young children pay more attention to speech with higher pitch and exaggerated intonation. This kind of speech is sometimes called child-directed speech, motherese, or baby talk. Evidence suggests that child-directed speech can help early language learning, e.g. by helping babies learn words and phrases, or by helping them realise that the speaker is talking to them, rather than to someone else in the room.
The project aimed to understand the strength of this effect, how it might vary between babies, between languages and cultures, and how it might change as babies grow. Together with babies from 68 labs worldwide, the final dataset of more than 2,700 infants is (to our knowledge) the largest experimental study of infant cognition to date. A follow-up study looking at the relationship between our original babies’ preferences for infant-directed speech and their vocabulary growth is currently under way.
Publications and outputs
ManyBabies Consortium (accepted pending data analysis; forthcoming 2019). Quantifying sources of variability in infancy research using the infant-directed speech preference. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science.