A DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS OF INFANT INITIATION OF COMMUNICATION
ROMANO, NOREEN NINFA
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This study investigated the development of social communication in infancy, from two weeks of age to six weeks of age, in a sample of seven infants who were observed at two, four, and six weeks. The infant's active initiation as well as his role in regulating and terminating the social interaction was analyzed. Developmental trends were described and individual differences analyzed.;Infant behavioral variables of infant initiation, infant termination and stops, gaze on, positive affect, negative affect, neutral affect, squirming, eyebrow raises, and mouth movements were measured in a spontaneous interaction and a structured interaction with a stranger and compared. Significantly lower percentages of infant gaze on and positive affect were found during the structured interaction and these decreased with age, although the decrease was not significant. Significantly higher percentages of negative affect, rate of termination and at six weeks, squirming were found and these increased with age, although this increase was not significant. It was concluded that infants as early as two weeks of age adapt their behavior to the structured interaction by making initiations, attempting to elicit a response from the examiner, and finally terminating the interaction before the full four minutes by either looking away or crying. Initiations as well as terminations per minute decrease with age, suggesting that the infant's regulation of the interaction becomes more skilled with age.;Marked individual differences in gaze behavior and engagement during the spontaneous interaction with the stranger were observed and these differences were correlated to maternal response patterns. Maternal intrusiveness was found to correlate significantly with a gaze away/low positive pattern with the stranger and maternal sensitivity correlated with a high gaze/high positive pattern with the stranger.
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