Language, play, and attention at one year

Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Marc H. Bornstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relations among language production, language comprehension, play competence, and attention span were examined in 43 13-month-old toddlers. Flexible language production and flexible language comprehension covaried, and play competence covaried with flexible language comprehension and with attention span. In contrast, neither language production nor language comprehension related positively to attention span. Relations between production and comprehension, between comprehension and play, and between play and attention were maintained even when concurrent level of maternal stimulation was partialled, suggesting that these associations are not solely mediated by mothers' didactics. Structural equation modeling showed that the common variance underlying language comprehension and play competence differed from variance underlying play competence and attention span. This suggests that a play-language factor and a play-attention factor reflect different underlying mental capacities in the young child, and that play can be partitioned into at least two independent components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-98
Number of pages14
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990


  • attention span
  • language comprehension
  • language production
  • maternal stimulation
  • play

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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