Date of Award

Fall 2018

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Michelle D Leichtman

Second Advisor

David B Pillemer

Third Advisor

John D Mayer


The dissertation focuses on two studies that explore an intriguing context in which variations in personal intelligence are apparent: the way parents talk with their children about other people. Fifty 6-9 year-olds and their mothers participated in Study 1. Study 1 documented individual differences in mother-child conversations about others and their relationship with mothers’ personal intelligence and children’s conversational variables, and also examined children’s use of trait labels and social behavior ratings. Forty-two 4-5 year-olds and 43 7-8 year-olds participated in Study 2 with their mothers. Study 2 replicated many of Study 1 findings, including significant correlations between mothers’ conversational variables, children’s conversational variables, and an association between mothers’ personal intelligence level and personality talk variables. Furthermore, Study 2 extended findings to a younger cohort of participants. Procedures for coding and analysis of personality talk are delineated. Study contributions are described in relation to literature on mother-child reminiscence and personal intelligence.