Research

Research in our lab is approved by the Psychology/Sociology Research Ethics Board. We are grateful for funding from the TransAtlantic Platform Digging into Data Challenge, SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), and NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Council), as well as internal funding from the University of Manitoba.

Preference Studies

Preference for Infant-directed Speech: How are infants’ preferences for the special properties of child-directed speech different across cultures and languages? (6 – 9 month olds)

We speak very differently to babies than we do to other adults — but this style of speaking varies across cultures and languages. In collaboration with dozens of laboratories around the world, we are examining how infants preference for this style of speech varies in different circumstances, languages and infant age.

Do babies demonstrate social preferences? (5.5 – 10.5 month olds)

The aim of this study is to explore if infants prefer those who are nice or mean to a third-party character. While studies have been conducted on infant social preferences in this context before, the results have not been consistently replicated. This study will add to existing literature and help us determine if infants have social preferences related to morality that they use when making decisions.

Recording Studies and the ACLEW Project

What are the language environments of infants born to young mothers? (0-24 month olds)

Young mothers face many challenges in providing high quality developmental environments for their infants. We are currently examining recordings of young mothers’ everyday interactions with their infants. Our findings will help us know how best to support these mothers.

The ACLEW Project: What are the language environments of children around the world? (0-24 month olds)

ACLEW is a project bringing together investigators from North America, South America and Europe to investigate the everyday language experiences of children in different communities. To date, we have recordings in North American and UK English, Spanish-English bilingual, Argentinian Spanish, Tseltan Mayan, and Yélî Dnye. Our work on this project with our team of research assistants has so far involved the development of a new transcription system and implementing that system across the recordings from these different language communities. We are also collaborating with “machine learning” experts to develop tools to automate our analyses over the many thousands of hours of audio recording!

How does smartphone usage influence our verbal interactions with our infants? (6 – 9 and 12 – 15 month olds)

Smartphones are often used by caregivers of young children, however their influence on the home language environment has not yet been well explored. We are currently examining recordings of mothers&apos everyday interactions with their infants while collecting smartphone data usage. These findings will help us to understand the impact of maternal smartphone usage on the amount of language spoken in the household.