Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Ann Stacks

Second Advisor

Dr. Marshall Zumberg


Research suggests that mother-child interactions, including sensitivity, responsiveness, and stimulation, are linked to children’s early language. Mind-mindedness refers to mothers’ proclivity to consider and treat their infant as having an active and autonomous mental life of thoughts, intentions, desires, etc. Mind-mindedness is a foundation of parental sensitivity and responsivity. Little research has been conducted on mind-mindedness and infant language development. The purpose of this study was to assess: 1) to assess the relationships among maternal sociodemographic characteristics and mind-mindedness, parent-child interactions and infant language development; 2) to determine whether variations in infant language development were associated with maternal mind-mindedness and parent-child interactions; and 3) to test whether parent-child interactions were the mechanism by which mind-mindedness and infant language development were related. This study utilized a subsample of 67 parent-infant dyads participating in a larger study, Parental Representations During Pre- and Postnatal Periods Linked to Early Outcomes (PURPLE). Most of the mothers were African American (76%), married/partnered (53.22%), and had at least a high school or GED (44.06%).Data were collected during a lab visit that took place when the infant was 6 to 8 months old. The measures used include maternal self-report of parenting on the Parenting Stress Index – Short Form (Abidin, 1995), six minutes of parent-child interactions during a double Still-Face Procedure that were coded for maternal mind-minded comments using Coding Manual, Version 2.0 (Meins & Fernyhough, 2010). Children’s language development was assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd Edition (Bayley, 2006). Findings suggested that most of the maternal sociodemographic characteristics were not associated with mind-mindedness or infant language development. Parent-child interactions were associated with language development, such that higher levels of parent-child dysfunctional interactions were associated with lower language development scores, mind-mindedness was not associated with infant language or parent-child dysfunctional interactions.