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Lexical changes during the transition to parenthood: An exploratory analysis
Unformatted Document Text:  Lexical changes during the transition to parenthood: An exploratory analysis The transition to parenthood is a well established social science research area dating back almost 50 years. Beginning with a classic article by LeMasters (1957), which argued that parenthood created a “crisis” for new mothers and fathers for which they were unprepared, social scientists from a number of different disciplines have investigated the effects and implications of the birth of a first child on new mothers, fathers, and the marital relationship. However, even a cursory review of the literature would indicate that the vast majority of research is conducted by psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, family scholars, and human development researchers. As such, when communication is discussed, it is typically in terms of quantity of communication (or lack thereof) or the quality of communication pertaining to the marital relationship. The research presented here offers a more explicit focus on communication through the examination of the lexical patterns used by husbands and wives during the transition to parenthood. As Hart and Daughton (2005) note, lexicons “are important to study because they set people apart” (p. 152). The intent here, therefore, is to examine both the changes in husband’s and wive’s individual word choices during the transition to parenthood as well as how husband and wife word choices differ from each other. Review of Literature The research on the transition to parenthood typically investigates changes that occur as a result of a couple having their first child. These changes include 1) changes in the quality of their marriage, 2) changes as a result of the new role of parent, and 3) changes in communication. Changes in the Marital Relationship During the Transition to Parenthood Early research on the transition to parenthood indicated that marital satisfaction decreases after the birth of a child (Belsky, Lang, & Rovine, 1985; Belsky, Spanier, & Rovine, 1983; Cowan, Cowan, Heming, Garrett, Coysh, Curtis-Boles, & Boles, 1985; Feldman & Nash, 1984; Ruble, Fleming, Hackle, & Stangor, 1988; Tomlinson, 1987). However, this change has been challenged by other researchers who indicate that parenthood may enhance some marriages, undermine others, and have little effect on others (Belsky & Kelly, 1994; Cowan & Cowan, 1992; Feeney, Hohaus, Noller, & Alexander, 2001; Kurdek, 1993). There are many factors that can affect whether any particular couple will experience a

Authors: Stamp, Glen. and Rutter, Jon.
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Lexical changes during the transition to parenthood: An exploratory analysis
The transition to parenthood is a well established social science research area dating back 
almost 50 years. Beginning with a classic article by LeMasters (1957), which argued that 
parenthood created a “crisis” for new mothers and fathers for which they were unprepared, social 
scientists from a number of different disciplines have investigated the effects and implications of 
the birth of a first child on new mothers, fathers, and the marital relationship. However, even a 
cursory review of the literature would indicate that the vast majority of research is conducted by 
psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, family scholars, and human development researchers. As 
such, when communication is discussed, it is typically in terms of quantity of communication (or 
lack thereof) or the quality of communication pertaining to the marital relationship. 
The research presented here offers a more explicit focus on communication through the 
examination of the lexical patterns used by husbands and wives during the transition to 
parenthood. As Hart and Daughton (2005) note, lexicons “are important to study because they set 
people apart” (p. 152). The intent here, therefore, is to examine both the changes in husband’s and 
wive’s individual word choices during the transition to parenthood as well as how husband and 
wife word choices differ from each other. 
Review of Literature
The research on the transition to parenthood typically investigates changes that occur as a 
result of a couple having their first child. These changes include 1) changes in the quality of their 
marriage, 2) changes as a result of the new role of parent, and 3) changes in communication. 
Changes in the Marital Relationship During the Transition to Parenthood
Early research on the transition to parenthood indicated that marital satisfaction decreases 
after the birth of a child (Belsky, Lang, & Rovine, 1985; Belsky, Spanier, & Rovine, 1983; Cowan, 
Cowan, Heming, Garrett, Coysh, Curtis-Boles, & Boles, 1985; Feldman & Nash, 1984; Ruble, 
Fleming, Hackle, & Stangor, 1988; Tomlinson, 1987). However, this change has been challenged 
by other researchers who indicate that parenthood may enhance some marriages, undermine others, 
and have little effect on others (Belsky & Kelly, 1994; Cowan & Cowan, 1992; Feeney, Hohaus, 
Noller, & Alexander, 2001; Kurdek, 1993).
There are many factors that can affect whether any particular couple will experience a 

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