Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Perez

Second Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Marcon

Department Chair

Dr. Lori Lange

College Dean

Dr. George Rainbolt



This study examined microgenetic changes in mother-child behaviors while they collaborated on a cognitive task that involved planning shopping routes around a table model of a grocery store across 4 trials. Sixty- eight mother-child dyads were randomly assigned to two conditions in which the goals of the task differed. In the experimental condition (n = 32) mothers were encouraged to help their child prepare for a solitary posttest and the dyad was informed they would be timed. In the control condition (n = 36), dyads were simply asked to work together. Research suggests that maternal instruction is most effective when matched to the child’s learning needs. While working with children on a collaborative planning task, it was expected that mothers would change their level or style of instruction as they became more aware of the child’s skill at the task. Specifically, mothers were expected to decrease their level of support behaviors and control across trials. For children, it was expected that they would become more engaged and more responsible for task completion across trials. Results suggested that as mothers and children became familiar with the task, mothers decreased their use of instructional behaviors. Also, that mothers in the experimental condition used more controlling behaviors across trials. Patterns of association emerged between mother’s control behaviors and child uncooperative behaviors, as did mother’s support behaviors and child engagement behaviors. These results suggest that mother-child behaviors may exhibit change due to factors other than the goals of the task itself, such as intersubjectivity (a shared understanding of the task at hand) and shared responsibility, which in turn may be influenced by shared social history (the extensive prior experience that the partners have had with one another in a social- historical context). Keywords: children, dyad, intersubjectivity, mothers, planning, sharing responsibility