Gesture development in infancy: Effects of gender but not bilingualism
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Description: Gesture is an important communication tool that provides insight into infants’ early language and cognitive development and predicts later language skills (Iverson & Goldin-Meadow, 2005). While bilingual school-age children have been reported to gesture more than monolinguals (Nicoladis, Pika, & Marentette, 2009), there is a lack of research examining gesture use in infants exposed to more than one language. In this pre-registered study, we compared three groups of 14‐month‐old infants (N = 150) learning French and/or English: bilinguals (hearing a second language at least 25% of the time), exposed (hearing a second language 10–24% of the time), and monolinguals (hearing one language 90% of the time or more). Parent-reported use of communicative gestures was gathered via the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI). Results showed that the three language groups had similarly sized gesture repertoires, suggesting that language exposure did not affect gesture development at this age. However, a gender effect was found, where girls produced more types of gestures than boys. Overall, these results suggest that gender, but not language exposure, contributes to differences in gesture development in infancy.