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Professor Elaine Reese Research Interests

 Associate Professor Elaine Reece

Email elaine.reese@otago.ac.nz
Tel 64 3 479 8441
Visit Professor Reese's profile

Social Influences on Children’s Development

One way that parents shape their children’s learning and development is through their talk. Whether they are talking to children as they play, telling or reading them stories, or talking to them about the past or future, parents’ conversation matters for children’s development.

Children's Development Aided by Parents' Talk

Father reading to son in Assoc Prof Elaine Reese's Research LabI study the way that parents’ talk creates change in children’s language, narrative, memory, literacy, and self-understanding. I am especially interested in the role of parents’ storytelling with their children. Parents’ stories range from ready-made versions available in books to stories that they tell about their own lives and their children’s lives. Both the quantity and the quality of these stories make a difference in children’s development. The sheer quantity of words that parents use affects their children’s language development. However, the quality of parents’ speech is equally important. Parents who ask their children open-ended questions about their experiences, such as, “What was your favourite part of the zoo?” are encouraging their children to put their experiences into words. This practice helps children’s language development but also enriches their memory development, their narrative skills, and even their reading acquisition. 

Delving into the Emotional Aspects of Stories Creates a More Coherent and Positive Sense of Self in Children

Mother, Child, Aunty telling stories in Assoc Prof Elaine Reese's Research LabParents who delve into the emotional aspects of stories and past events, especially the negative aspects, also have children with a more coherent and more positive sense of self. Critically, there are differences between boys and girls in their narrative skills and self-understanding from a young age. We are finding that parents need to continue to help boys understand their emotions and past experiences into middle childhood, whereas girls are mastering these skills at a younger age.

The Importance of Early Emotional Relationships in Children's Learning

The basis for these effects of parental talk on children’s development is grounded in the child’s relationship with the parent from a young age. Those toddlers who are securely attached to their caregivers benefit more from their parents’ talk, whereas children who are insecurely attached to their parents show fewer benefits from their parents’ talk over early childhood. Thus, the early emotional relationship with the parent is essential in children’s learning.

Storytelling in Early Childhood Evokes Earlier Memories as Adolescents

Father and teenage daughter participants in Assoc Prof Elaine Reese's Research walking across bridgeIn my lab, we are now assessing the outcomes of these early parent-child conversations as we follow the children in our longitudinal studies into adolescence. We are finding that children whose parents told elaborative stories with them in early childhood have earlier memories and stronger self-concepts as adolescents. We are extending these investigations to other cultures to explore whether Maori adolescents, who have the earliest memories of any culture studied, develop a coherent life story at a younger age than Chinese or European New Zealand adolescents, who tend to have later memories. Across cultures, we expect adolescents’ life stories to be linked to their self-concept and to their psychological well-being.

Supported by

Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand
National Institute of Child Health and Development
Foundation for Research in Science and Technology

Collaborators

Professor Robyn Fivush (Emory University)
Professor William Friedman (Oberlin College)
Professor Wendy Grolnick (Clark University)
Professor Harlene Hayne (University of Otago)
Associate Professor Qi Wang (Cornell University)
Dr Elizabeth Schaughency (University of Otago)
Dr Mele Taumoepeau (University of Otago)
Dr Catherine Haden (Loyola University)
Professor Peter Ornstein (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Professor Lynne Baker-Ward (North Carolina State University)
Professor Patricia Bauer (Emory University)
Professor Marjorie Taylor (University of Oregon)

Other Affiliations

Leader of Education Domain, Growing Up in New Zealand
University of Auckland
School of Population Health
www.growingup.co.nz

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Publications

Hazan, H., Reese, E., & Linscott, R. J. (2021). Understanding poor adjustment in schizotypy: A prospective study of the role of self during late adolescence and early adulthood. Emerging Adulthood. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/21676968211021759

Corkin, M. T., Peterson, E. R., Henderson, A. M. E., Bird, A. L., Waldie, K. E., Reese, E., & Morton, S. M. B. (2021). The predictors of screen time at two years in a large nationally diverse cohort. Journal of Child & Family Studies. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10826-021-01985-5

Riordan, J., Reese, E., Das, S., Carroll, J., & Schaughency, E. (2021). Tender Shoots: A randomized controlled trial of two shared-reading approaches for enhancing parent-child interactions and children’s oral language and literacy skills. Scientific Studies of Reading. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/10888438.2021.1926464

Bakir-Demir, T., Reese, E., Sahin-Acar, B., & Tursel, E. G. (2021). Vicarious family stories of Turkish young, middle-aged, and older adults: Are family stories related to well-being? Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2020.12.003

Hazan, H., Reese, E., & Linscott, R. J. (2021). Basic self-disturbance in schizotypy. Early Intervention in Psychiatry. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/eip.13125

Reese, E. (2013). Tell me a story: Sharing stories to enrich your child's world. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 241p.

Authored Book - Research

Suggate, S., & Reese, E. (Eds.). (2012). Contemporary debates in childhood education and development. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 352p.

Edited Book - Research

Reese, E. (2017). Encouraging collaborative remembering between young children and their caregivers. In M. L. Meade, C. B. Harris, P. Van Bergen, J. Sutton & A. J. Barnier (Eds.), Collaborative remembering: Theories, research, and applications. (pp. 317-333). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oso/9780198737865.003.0018

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E. (2015). What good is a picturebook? Developing children's oral language and literacy through shared picturebook reading. In B. Kümmerling-Meibauer, J. Meibauer, K. Nachtigäller & K. J. Rohlfing (Eds.), Learning from picturebooks: Perspectives from child development and literacy studies. (pp. 194-208). Hove, UK: Routledge.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E. (2014). Practical tips for conducting longitudinal studies of memory development. In P. J. Bauer & R. Fivush (Eds.), Wiley handbook on the development of children's memory. (pp. 1044-1050). Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E. (2014). Taking the long way: Longitudinal approaches to autobiographical memory development. In P. J. Bauer & R. Fivush (Eds.), Wiley handbook on the development of children's memory. (pp. 972-995). Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E., Taumoepeau, M., & Neha, T. (2014). Remember drawing on the cupboard? New Zealand Māori, European, and Pasifika parents’ conversations about children’s transgressions. In C. Wainryb & H. E. Recchia (Eds.), Talking about right and wrong: Parent-child conversations as contexts for moral development. (pp. 44-70). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E. (2013). Culture, narrative, and imagination. In M. Taylor (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of the development of imagination. (pp. 196-211). Oxford University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E. (2012). The tyranny of shared book-reading. In S. Suggate & E. Reese (Eds.), Contemporary debates in childhood education and development. (pp. 59-68). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E., Sparks, A., & Suggate, S. (2012). Assessing children's narratives. In E. Hoff (Ed.), Research methods in child language: A practical guide. (pp. 133-148). Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E., Yan, C., Jack, F., & Hayne, H. (2010). Emerging identities: Narrative and self from early childhood to early adolescence. In K. C. McLean & M. Pasupathi (Eds.), Narrative development in adolescence: Creating the storied self. (pp. 23-43). New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-89825-4

Chapter in Book - Research

Schaughency, E., & Reese, E. (2010). Connections between language and literacy development. In J. Low & P. Jose (Eds.), Lifespan development: New Zealand perspectives. (2nd ed.) (pp. 59-71). Auckland, New Zealand: Pearson.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E. (2009). The development of autobiographical memory: Origins and consequences. In P. Bauer (Ed.), Advances in child development and behavior (Vol. 37). (pp. 145-200). The Netherlands: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/s0065-2407(09)03704-5

Chapter in Book - Research

Bird, A., & Reese, E. (2008). Autobiographical memory in childhood and the development of a continuous self. In F. Sani (Ed.), Self continuity: Individual and collective perspectives. (pp. 43-54). NY: Psychology Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E., Newcombe, R., & Bird, A. (2006). The emergence of autobiographical memory: Cognitive, social, and emotional factors. In C. M. Fletcher-Flinn & G. M. Haberman (Eds.), Cognition and language: Perspectives from New Zealand. (pp. 177-190). Brisbane: Australian Academic Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E., & Farrant, K. (2003). Social origins of reminiscing. In R. Fivush & C. A. Haden (Eds.), Autobiographical memory and the construction of a narrative self: Developmental and cultural perspectives. (pp. 29-48). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E., Cox, A., Harte, D., & McAnally, H. (2003). Diversity in adults' styles of reading books to children. In A. van Kleeck, S. A. Stahl & E. B. Bauer (Eds.), On reading books to children: Parents and teachers. (pp. 37-57). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Chapter in Book - Research

Fivush, R., & Reese, E. (2002). Reminiscing and relating: The development of parent-child talk about the past. In J. D. Webster & B. K. Haight (Eds.), Critical Advances in Reminiscence Work. (pp. 109-122). New York: Springer Publishing.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E. (2002). A model of the origins of autobiographical memory. In J. W. Fagen & H. Hayne (Eds.), Progress in Infancy Research (Vol. 2). (pp. 215-260). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Chapter in Book - Research

Haden, C. A., Fivush, R., & Reese, J. E. (1998). Narrative development in social context. In A. Smorti (Ed.), Narrative Development. (pp. 133-152). Florence, Italy: Giunti.

Chapter in Book - Research

Fivush, R., Pipe, M.-E., Murachver, T. S., & Reese, J. E. (1997). Events spoken and unspoken: implications of language and memory development for the recovered memory debate. In M. A. Conway (Ed.), Recovered Memories and False Memories. (pp. 34-62). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Fivush, R., Haden, C., & Reese, E. (1995). Remembering, recounting, and reminiscing: The development of autobiographical memory in social context. In D. C. Rubin (Ed.), Remembering our past: Studies in autobiographical memory. (pp. 341-359). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Fivush, R., & Reese, E. (1992). The social construction of autobiographical memory. In M. A. Conway, D. C. Rubin, H. Spinnler & W. A. Wagenaar (Eds.), Theoretical perspectives on autobiographical memory. (pp. 115-132). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic.

Chapter in Book - Research

Reese, E. (2006). Foreword. In J. Low & P. Jose (Eds.), Lifespan development: New Zealand perspectives. (pp. v). Auckland, New Zealand: Pearson Education.

Chapter in Book - Other

Bakir-Demir, T., Reese, E., Sahin-Acar, B., & Tursel, E. G. (2021). Vicarious family stories of Turkish young, middle-aged, and older adults: Are family stories related to well-being? Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2020.12.003

Journal - Research Article

Corkin, M. T., Peterson, E. R., Henderson, A. M. E., Bird, A. L., Waldie, K. E., Reese, E., & Morton, S. M. B. (2021). The predictors of screen time at two years in a large nationally diverse cohort. Journal of Child & Family Studies. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10826-021-01985-5

Journal - Research Article

Corkin, M., Peterson, E. R., Henderson, A. M. E., Waldie, K. E., Reese, E., & Morton, S. M. B. (2021). Preschool screen media exposure, executive functions and symptoms of inattention/hyperactivity. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 73, 101237. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2020.101237

Journal - Research Article

Hazan, H., Reese, E., & Linscott, R. J. (2021). Basic self-disturbance in schizotypy. Early Intervention in Psychiatry. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/eip.13125

Journal - Research Article

Hazan, H., Reese, E., & Linscott, R. J. (2021). Understanding poor adjustment in schizotypy: A prospective study of the role of self during late adolescence and early adulthood. Emerging Adulthood. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/21676968211021759

Journal - Research Article

McAnally, H. M., Forsyth, B. J., Taylor, M., & Reese, E. (2021). Imaginary companions in childhood: What can prospective longitudinal research tell us about their fate by adolescence? Journal of Creative Behavior, 55(1), 276-283. doi: 10.1002/jocb.468

Journal - Research Article

Reese, E., & Whitehouse, H. (2021). The development of identity fusion. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1129639. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1745691620968761

Journal - Research Article

Riordan, J., Reese, E., Das, S., Carroll, J., & Schaughency, E. (2021). Tender Shoots: A randomized controlled trial of two shared-reading approaches for enhancing parent-child interactions and children’s oral language and literacy skills. Scientific Studies of Reading. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/10888438.2021.1926464

Journal - Research Article

Salmon, K., Isler, L., Jose, P., Glynn, R., Mitchell, C., Dewhirst, M., … Reese, E. (2021). Delving into the detail: Greater episodic detail in narratives of a critical life event predicts an increase in adolescent depressive symptoms across one year. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 137, 103798. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2020.103798

Journal - Research Article

Bakir-Demir, T., Reese, E., & Sahin-Acar, B. (2020). How three generations narrate their vicarious family stories: Intrafamilial similarities, gender and cross-generational differences. Memory, 28(4), 553-566. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2020.1749282

Journal - Research Article

Chen, Y., Cullen, E., Fivush, R., Wang, Q., & Reese, E. (2020). Mother, father, and I: A cross-cultural investigation of adolescents’ intergenerational narratives and well-being. Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2020.08.011

Journal - Research Article

Fivush, R., McAnally, H., & Reese, E. (2020). Family stories and family secrets. Journal of New Zealand Studies, 29, 20-36. doi: 10.26686/jnzs.v0iNS29.6259

Journal - Research Article

Leyva, D., Reese, E., Laible, D., Schaughency, E., Das, S., & Clifford, A. (2020). Measuring parents' elaborative reminiscing: Differential links of parents' elaboration to children's autobiographical memory and socioemotional skills. Journal of Cognition & Development, 21(1), 23-45. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2019.1668395

Journal - Research Article

Mitchell, C., Reese, E., Salmon, K., & Jose, P. (2020). Narrative coherence, psychopathology, and wellbeing: Concurrent and longitudinal findings in a mid-adolescent sample. Journal of Adolescence, 79, 16-25. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2019.12.003

Journal - Research Article

Neha, T., Reese, E., Schaughency, E., & Taumoepeau, M. (2020). The role of whānau (New Zealand Māori families) for Māori children’s early learning. Developmental Psychology, 56(8), 1518-1531. doi: 10.1037/dev0000835

Journal - Research Article

Reese, E., Macfarlane, L., McAnally, H., Robertson, S.-J., & Taumoepeau, M. (2020). Coaching in maternal reminiscing with preschoolers leads to elaborative and coherent personal narratives in early adolescence. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 189, 104707. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2019.104707

Journal - Research Article

Schaughency, E., Riordan, J., Reese, E., Derby, M., & Gillon, G. (2020). Developing a community-based oral language preventive intervention: Exploring feasibility and social validity for families affected by the Canterbury earthquakes. Infants & Young Children, 33(3), 195-218. doi: 10.1097/IYC.0000000000000171

Journal - Research Article

Tasuji, T., Reese, E., van mulukom, V., & Whitehouse, H. (2020). Band of mothers: Childbirth as a female bonding experience. PLoS ONE, 15(10), e0240175. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240175

Journal - Research Article

Van Bergen, P., Barnier, A. J., Reese, E., & McIlwain, D. (2020). “There were spooks in the park”: Children's reminiscing with parents and siblings following a staged Halloween event. Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition, 9, 96-107. doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2019.10.003

Journal - Research Article

Atatoa Carr, P. E., Reese, E., Bird, A. L., Bandara, D. K., Grant, C. C., & Morton, S. M. B. (2019). Caring for our infants: Parents’ antenatal childcare intentions and nine-month reality. Early Years, 39(1), 17-35. doi: 10.1080/09575146.2017.1323186

Journal - Research Article

Fivush, R., Habermas, T., & Reese, E. (2019). Retelling lives: Narrative style and stability of highly emotional events over time. Qualitative Psychology, 6(2), 156-166. doi: 10.1037/qup0000150

Journal - Research Article

Hazan, H., Reese, E. J., & Linscott, R. J. (2019). Narrative self and high risk for schizophrenia: Remembering the past and imagining the future. Memory, 27(9), 1214-1223. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2019.1642919

Journal - Research Article

Reese, E., & Robertson, S.-J. (2019). Origins of adolescents' earliest memories. Memory, 27(1), 79-91. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2018.1512631

Journal - Research Article

Reese, E., Gunn, A., Bateman, A., & Carr, M. (2019). Teacher-child talk about learning stories in New Zealand: A strategy for eliciting children’s complex language. Early Years. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/09575146.2019.1621804

Journal - Research Article

Reese, E., Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., & Centifanti, L. (2019). Origins of mother-child reminiscing style. Development & Psychopathology, 31(2), 631-642. doi: 10.1017/s0954579418000172

Journal - Research Article

Corkin, M. T., Dando, E., Peterson, E. R., Andrejic, N., Waldie, K. E., Reese, E., & Morton, S. M. B. (2018). “The way she smiles brightens me up”: Highlights of parenting an infant in a large nationally diverse cohort. Current Psychology, 40, 919-938. doi: 10.1007/s12144-018-0014-5

Journal - Research Article

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