Regulation of mother-infant affective engagement
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This study investigated regulation of affective engagement at 3-4 months. Eleven female infants were videotaped in face-to-face play with their mothers and an adult female stranger. At 12 months, the infant's attachment was evaluated in the Ainsworth Strange Situation. Affective engagement was coded by microanalysis of videotape using an ordinal scale of engagement and disengagement. Levels of engagement were based on constellations of facial expression, postural orientation and visual regard of each partner. Time series regression analysis was employed to determine joint regulation.;Mother-infant and stranger-infant dyads demonstrated significant regulation of affective engagement. Differences were documented in the pattern of regulation between adults and infants and between mother-infant and stranger-infant dyads. Adults tracked infants much more consistently than infants tracked adults. Some infants tracked the engagement of their partners, yet this capacity appears to be much less available to the infant than to the adult partners. Mother-infant regulation of engagement occurred more frequently than stranger-infant engagement. Differential affective response of the infant to the stranger and mother was also documented.;Indices of joint regulation of engagement at 4 months were examined in relation to measures of affective quality at 4 months and attachment behaviors at 1 year. Exploration of these relations yielded contradictory trends. Joint regulation of affect was found to be a widespread phenomenon regardless of security of attachment at 1 year and affective quality of interaction at 4 months. This evidence suggests that joint regulation of engagement as measured by time series regression is an innate perceptual processing capacity potentially available to adults and infants rather than a measure of attunement or quality of affect.;Microanalytic methods of observation did not prove superior to global clinical ratings in elucidating interactive antecedents to attachment at 1 year. Purely qualitative measures of interaction based on the use of the engagement scale failed to predict attachment behaviors at 1 year.
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