Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Marygrace Yale Kaiser

Second Committee Member

Heather A. Henderson

Third Committee Member

Christine Delgado

Fourth Committee Member

Maria Carlo

Fifth Committee Member

Lynne Katz


The positive link between children's joint attention skills and subsequent language outcomes is well established. There is also abundant evidence that responsive caregiver behaviors lead to optimal language outcomes. Though directive behaviors are generally considered detrimental to children's growth, specific types of directive behaviors which extend or build upon a child's behavior are thought to promote children's learning. No study has examined how caregiver behaviors interact with children's joint attention skills to affect subsequent language. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to examine how three different caregiver behaviors (Responsiveness, Supportiveness, and Intrusiveness) measured at 18 months moderated the relation between joint attention (also measured at 18 months) and language in two separate samples (a 24-month and a 36-month outcome sample). Intrusiveness was a significant moderator of the relation between RJA and 24-month language. RJA was a significant predictor of 24-month receptive and expressive language only in children whose caregivers had a low to moderate level of intrusiveness. Understanding the child and caregiver factors that promote or hinder children's language outcomes in children at risk for delay may help inform and target interventions that will help improve children's school readiness outcomes.


Caregiver Behaviors; Language; At-risk; Prenatal Cocaine; Joint Attention