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Vocal-Affective Weaning and its role in musical enculturation: children’s interest in music beyond the Infant-Directed Register



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Robledo Del Canto, Juan Pablo 


Well-established theoretical approaches to the Infant-directed Register (IDReg) draw a more or less tacit causal relation between it and all future musical engagement: the former establishes a basis for the latter. However, a mechanistic, observable chain of events linking these two phenomena has only been assumed, remaining for the most part unproblematized and undescribed. This thesis represents a first systematic attempt to fill this theoretical and empirical gap by concretely linking early musicality and the first manifestations of the most characteristic and widespread Western form of musical engagement: listening to recorded music. It does so by introducing a new construct as a mediating motivational factor— Vocal- Affective Weaning (VAW) —which mainly concerns the variation of caregivers’ use of the IDReg across developmental time. The thesis is grounded and tested in three literature reviews, two theoretical chapters, and three empirical ones. In terms of main findings, little evidence is found to support the existence of VAW as depicted in the main thesis. Consequently, any direct relationship between VAW and toddlers' attention to recorded music seems doubtful. Instead, data evidences a progressive use of Infant-Directed Speech (IDSp) as an ostensive cue used in the context of Natural Pedagogy, which allows for a better understanding of the relative importance of affectivity and cognition as parallel, coexisting governing principles that exert an influence on developmental changes concerning parental use of IDSp. If anything, data highlights interaction as a much more promising element in an explanatory chain linking the IDReg and Western forms of music engagement. The mentioned mismatch between the main thesis and results is interpreted in terms of the former’s unjustified stress on ‘centripetal’ over ‘centrifugal’ attachment dynamics. Resulting data also allows to delineate more nuanced factorial and developmental accounts of toddlers’ sustained attention to musical stimuli than has been previously advanced.





Cross, Ian


Music, Developmental psychology, Infant-Directed Speech, Attachment, Theory of Natural Pedagogy


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Becas-Chile Scholarship, CONICYT Chile CONICYT- Chile Cambridge Scholarship, Cambridge Commonwealth, European & International Trust