The relationship between vocabulary and gesture development in early childhood and infancy

Mumford, Katherine Hannah (2014). The relationship between vocabulary and gesture development in early childhood and infancy. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

PDF - Accepted Version

Download (2MB)


This thesis presents novel and original studies on the relationship between early vocabulary and gesture development. The thesis is split into two halves. First, the thesis addresses the issue of how seeing gestures can influence verb learning in 3-year-olds. Although previous studies have shown that gestures can aid word learning, the issue of how has not been addressed. This thesis is the first to demonstrate that gestures could help children to generalise novel verbs to specific referents within complex novel scenes.
Secondly, the thesis investigates the relationship between language and gesture in the left hemisphere, as indicated by the right-over-left preference for gesturing, in previously untested age groups. The thesis provides evidence that at the onset of referential communication a reorganisation occurs and this may be driven by receptive, rather than expressive, language development. Observational results showed that 3-year-olds tended to use their right hand when they had built multimodal representations of novel verbs. This thesis then describes the first study to manipulate gesture handedness in children, which suggests that encouraging right-handed gesturing has an advantage over left-handed gesturing in a language task. This thesis extends the current literature with studies that have important theoretical and practical implications.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year