THE DYNAMICS OF MOTHER-INFANT RELATEDNESS ACROSS NEAR-DISTANCE SPACE
FIXMAN-GREEN, JANE H.
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The face-to-face interaction as described by Stern et. al. (1977), has been examined as it is embedded within a larger stream of mother-infant behaviors. A detailed observational study was undertaken of six mothers and their four-month-old infants in a naturalistic nursery setting. Through videotape analysis, descriptive categories of behavior were generated that define the dyad's relatedness extending beyond the limits of the mutually focused face-to-face interaction to encompass other aspects of their involvement in surrounding physical space and in the social environment. Other interactions that are not necessarily mediated by visual gaze, and various dynamics of the dyad's use of physical space, were identified and shown to be intimately connected in maintaining relatedness. A hierarchy of relatedness across space was defined, from the direct gaze and mutual attunement of the face-to-face interaction, to mother and infant dividing their relatedness between each other and the surrounding environment, to the independent activity of the baby apart from mother. Through the continual creating and bridging of physical and social space, mother and infant gain experience in the development of closeness and distance, and relatedness across distance. These dynamics of relatedness across space were suggested to define an aspect of the differentiation process occurring at this age.