RELATIONSHIP OF MATERNAL KINESIC HAND GAMES AND INFANT ENGAGEMENT LEVEL
SPIRA, NAOMI NUTKIS
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This investigation examined whether variations in the temporal aspects of maternal kinesic hand games have functional relevance for infant engagement levels during face-to-face play. Infant engagement levels are particular constellations of orientation, attention and facial expression. Specifically, three variations in maternal timing were examined: scalarity of the timing mechanism, degree of tightness of rhythm, and tempo.;The subjects were three mother-daughter pairs.;The dyads were videotaped in the lab using a modified form of the face-to-face play paradigm. Mothers were asked to play with their infants as they ordinarily do at home and then to play kinesic hand games if these were not spontaneously included. If there was no variation in the speed of their behavior they were asked to do the same thing slower and faster. Analysis of the maternal kinesic games and maternal and infant engagement levels was made by frame-by-frame analysis of 16 mm film.;Kinesic hand games were defined by runs of at least three repetitions of identical kinesic pattern. Stretches of data where there was no repetition of kinesic hand movements were identified.;Maternal behavior was hypothesized to conform to a scalar model of timing. In addition, an optimum maternal tempo and rhythm were hypothesized to be associated with higher infant engagement. This investigation confirmed that maternal behavior conforms to a scalar process of timing. However no systematic relationships between infant engagement and maternal tempo or rhythm were found.;Rather, there is a systematic relationship between infant engagement and maternal engagement for all three dyads. For two dyads (Dyads two and three) maternal and infant engagement covary. For Dyad two, this relationship holds only in the context of kinesic game structure and is not significant during stretches without kinesic hand games. For Dyad one, infant engagement level is significantly higher when the mother and infant share direction of engagement level change, but only during kinesic hand games.;Thus for two of the dyads an interaction between maternal engagement and the presence of kinesic game structure yield a systematic relationship with infant engagement level which does not obtain in sectors without kinesic games. The kinesic run adds a subtle organizational property to the regulation of these two interactions.;Limitations in maternal range of rhythm and tempo and infant range of engagement preclude any final rejection of the relevance of maternal tempo and rhythm of hand games in these three dyads. Nevertheless, the systematic relationship between maternal engagement level and infant engagement level in all three dyads is a strong finding. Moreover in two of the three dyads this relationship becomes evident only during kinesic hand games.