Who was Abraham Lincoln anyway? Mother–child reminiscing across levels of abstraction.

Researchers studying parent–child reminiscing in the preschool years have often focused on parents’ and children’s elaborative talk (i.e., provision of unique details). The current study proposes a novel conceptualization of parent–child reminiscing narratives by examining 4 levels of abstraction (i.e., a continuum of literal to inferential language) and utterance function (i.e., wh-questions, yes/no questions, statements) given the relevance of inferential language and utterance function in studies of book reading with preschoolers. The purpose of this novel conceptualization was twofold: to examine the extent to which mothers’ levels of abstraction and utterance function (a) elicit children’s immediate responses within the same level of abstraction and (b) predict children’s story comprehension within and across two time points 6 months apart. We also examined the consistency in these mother–child contingent relations across time, as well as the conceptualization of reminiscing in terms of levels of abstraction in relation to elaborations. Fifty mothers and their preschoolers participated; mean age at Time 1 was 4.42 years and at Time 2 was 4.94 years. We found that mothers elicited children’s responses at the same, but not across, levels of abstraction for each utterance function; contingency patterns were remarkably similar across time. Relations between children’s story comprehension and mothers’ levels of abstractions were not statistically significant, although we discuss trends in the data. Finally, mothers’ level of abstraction and elaborative discourse did not vary systematically, suggesting that these are distinct conceptualizations of reminiscing narratives. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)