THE INFLUENCE OF ADULT INTERVENTION ON INFANTS' LEVEL OF ATTENTION
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This study explored the effects of adult intervention on infants' level of attention to objects. An experimental study was conducted using 84 10-month-old fullterm infants. A baseline measure of each child's spontaneous attention to objects while playing alone was first established by presenting four novel objects for one-minute apiece. Each infant was randomly assigned to one of four conditions (low, medium, high intervention or a control condition). The amount of intervention provided by an adult during interaction was systematically manipulated in order to determine its effect on infants' attention to objects. The level of intervention was controlled by varying the manner and frequency with which the object was demonstrated and the extent to which the experimenter talked to the infant.;Infant attention was defined as duration of time spent examining objects. In addition to total duration of attention, two components of duration of attention were analyzed: frequency of attention and mean length of attentional episode. Results of analyses of covariance indicated increases in the overall duration of infant attention and in the frequency of attention during medium and high intervention conditions when the intervention conditions were compared to the control group.;A median split on the basis of time spent examining during the baseline period was then used to separate infants into high and low spontaneous attenders. Results of a 2 x 3 (group x condition) analysis of variance revealed that the extent of independent infant attention to inanimate objects can be affected by level of intervention. In general, infants were most attentive with a moderate level of intervention. Spontaneously low attending infants attended more in medium and high intervention conditions than in the low condition while high attending infants tended to be unaffected by intervention. There was a greater mean frequency of attention during the medium and high conditions than during the low condition, but only for low attenders.;These results will need to be followed up with further investigation aimed at delineating specific factors involved in maternal and adult intervention, and at how the effect of these factors changes with development.
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