Individual Differences in Style of Language Acquisition in Relation to Social Networks
June Hampson C. U. N. Y. The Graduate School and University Center
In their seminal paper assessing the many direct and indirect influences that members of the wider social network can exert on the developing child, Cochran and Brassard ( 1979) deplored the paucity of studies that had included social networks as a major variable. Although social network studies have received increased attention as researchers have expanded their conception of the child's social world, most studies have focused on middle childhood (e.g., Bryant, 1985), often in school settings (e.g., Ladd, 1983). Those few studies that have addressed the influence of social networks on preschoolers and infants have attempted to assess the indirect influence of the maternal social network on early development, such as the buffering effect of a supportive network against maternal stress ( Crnic, Greenburg, Ragozin, Robinson, & Basham, 1983). Ladd ( 1984) has exhorted developmental psychologists studying social networks to go beyond merely mapping networks to attempting to relate social networks to important developmental outcomes. The two chapters in this volume focused on language development seek to examine the direct influence of the child's own social network on the child's development by examining one of the major transitions of the preschool period.
While the role of peer relationships in the emergence of children's social skills has received attention (see, for example, Eckerman & Stein, 1982; Goldman & Ross, 1978; Mueller & Brenner, 1977) most work on language development has restricted itself, in contrast, to the mother-child dyad, examining dimensions of the mother's speech in relation to the child's. Apart from a few studies that have focused on the input of fathers ( Giattino &