THE ORGANIZATION OF VOCALIZATION AND GAZE IN MOTHER-INFANT PLAY
ZELNER, SIMONE DEBRA
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In a re-analysis of a data base on which previous results have been reported (Stern et al, 1975), this study examined eight mother-infant dyads (four twin sets) at three to four months of age, in a standard face-to-face paradigm which analyzed the organization of vocalization and gaze in naturally occurring play. The analysis rests upon the fact that dyadic interaction can be described by the use of any one, or all, of 16 different states which derive from all possible on-off combinations of maternal and infant vocalization and gaze. Sampled every 0.1 second, a transition matrix of frequencies of transition among the 16 possible states of the system, showed the probability of any dyadic state proceeding to any other dyadic state, or remaining in the same state.;The 16 states were used in significantly similar patterns by all dyads, due to the predominant use of six high frequency states. However, despite similarities, there are also significant differences among dyads. These differences are organized by "high" and "low" levels of infant visual engagement.;Session-to-session use of the 16 possible states was significantly consistent within individual dyads, within twin sets, and across dyads using similar levels of visual engagement, e.g., "high" or "low". Since microanalysis of mother-infant interaction requires intensive data collection procedures, analyses of more than one session have often not been feasible, and generalization has been problematic. Though limited by the known parameters of the sample, this finding of significant consistency shows that any one session is a reasonable sample for the analysis of the organization of patterns of interaction.;The sequential analysis of vocalization and gaze demonstrated that "baby look" significantly influences the onset of "mother vocalize". Framed by maternal gaze, the intermodal dialogue of infant gaze, followed by maternal vocalization (within 0.1 second), describes a contingent relationship through which mutual regulation is enacted.;Whereas the level of infant visual engagement ("high" or "low") is a salient factor in the organization of dyadic vocal-visual patterns of interaction, the monozygotic versus dizygotic designation did not prove to be a central organizing factor.
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