MATERNAL INTENSITY AND INFANT DISENGAGEMENT IN FACE TO FACE PLAY (INTERACTION, STIMULATION, MICROANALYSIS, INFANT WITHDRAWAL)
HIRSCHFELD, NAOMI BETH
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The kind of withdrawal response which an infant typically employs during social interactions may play a specific role in his development. This investigation examines the relationship between various kinds of infant withdrawal responses, specifically degrees and durations of disengagement, and maternal management of stimulation during face to face play at 4 months. It was hypothesized that increases in maternal intensity of stimulation following an infant disengagement would be correlated with greater degrees of infant disengagement and longer infant disengagement. It was also hypothesized that the degree of infant disengagement would be correlated with the overall quality of interaction (measured in terms of an engagement/disengagement balance).;Fourteen normal mothers and their normal four month old infants were videotaped in a laboratory setting using a standard face to face play paradigm. The videotapes were coded for: degree of infant engagement and disengagement; and intensity of maternal stimulation. The results demonstrated that relatively larger increases in maternal intensity of stimulation following infant disengagement were significantly correlated in a positive direction with both the degree and the duration of infant disengagement. Larger increases in maternal intensity of stimulation, were associated with greater degrees of infant disengagement and more prolonged infant disengagement. No significant relationships were found using the variable of the infant's engagement/disengagement balance.;Engagement and disengagement are viewed as distinct aspects of interaction, each requiring different skills from both mother and infant. It is suggested that the manner in which a mother manages the stimulation she provides to her infant is a function of her capacity to respond contingently and sensitively to her infant's needs for arousal modulation. The way in which infant disengagement is negotiated even as early as four months of age may have implications for the infant's future psychological development.