Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

David Caruso


This study examines mothers' helping behavior in relation to birth-order and sex of one year old infants. The sample selected for this study was composed of sixty children and their mothers. A one hour home visit was conducted in order to video tape mother/child interaction during four problem solving tasks. The results suggest that regardless of birth order, there were no overall sex difference on any measure of mothers helping behavior, aspects the home environment, or demographic variables. However, the results suggest there to be an overall birth order difference with mothers of first born children using more negative statements during the problem solving tasks. Further analysis controlling for sex found that birth-order makes a difference for boys only. Mothers of first born boys expressed significantly more negative statements and unrelated statements. A secondary objective of this study was to examine differences in the home environment in relation to birthorder and/or sex of the child using the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME). The results suggest that regardless of the sex of the infant, mothers of second born children scored significantly higher than mothers of first born children on HOME inventory sub-scale II (Avoidance of restriction and punishment). Interestingly, mothers who scored significantly higher on sub-scale II (Avoidance of restriction and punishment) also used less negative statements during the problem-solving tasks. Mothers who scored higher on sub-scale V (Maternal emotional and verbal involvement with child) also gave more verbal instruction during the problems solving tasks.



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