The current project investigates relations between mothers’ beliefs about knowledge (personal epistemologies; PEs), mother-child talk, and children’s interpretation understanding. Conceptual analyses of belief and understanding were first conducted in order to clarify their usage in everyday grammar. Next, data from 38 mothers and their 6-8 year-old children was used to assess relations between mothers’ PEs, mother-child conversation about a storybook, and children’s interpretation understanding. Children’s receptive vocabulary, mothers’ parenting attitudes, and socioeconomic status were also assessed as covariates. The results of correlational and regression analyses showed a positive relationship between mothers’ PEs and children’s interpretation understanding when accounting for relevant covariates, including use of mental state terms. Furthermore, mother-child talk was positively associated with mothers’ PEs and children’s interpretation understanding, while the interaction between mothers’ PEs and mother-child talk negatively predicted children’s interpretation understanding. These findings suggest that relations with caregivers constitute one pathway from which children’s interpretation understanding emerges.
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Thesis advisor: Racine, Timothy
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