The cradling bias in relation to pitch of maternal child-directed language


Department of Psychology, William Guild Building, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB 24 2UB, UK (e-mail: n.


In research on cradling, the leftward cradling bias has been observed in the context of holding infants ranging in age from birth to 18 months. Mothers’ expression of emotion and their control of infant emotion may influence cradling preference (e.g. Weiland & Sperber, 1970). Research on the pitch of child-directed speech has found that mothers express their emotions to pre-verbal infants by using different pitch (F0). Specifically, they use different pitch depending on whether they are conveying to their pre-verbal infants messages encouraging attention or soothing the infant. Following these findings the present study tested the hypothesis that mothers cradling on the right in comparison with mothers cradling on the left will speak with a higher mean pitch to attract their infants’ attention. It was found that mothers (N = 13) cradling right (mean pitch = 221.11 Hz; mean amplitude = 55.78 dB) compared with mothers (N = 18) cradling left (mean pitch = 171.33 Hz; mean amplitude = 49.20 dB) spoke with a higher pitch and amplitude. Furthermore, a comparison of mean pitch and amplitude of those mothers (N = 14) who cradled both right and left showed that the same mothers spoke with a higher pitch and amplitude when cradling right (mean pitch = 234.62 Hz; mean amplitude = 53.20 dB) in comparison with cradling left (mean pitch = 179.86 Hz; mean amplitude = 48.87 dB).