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Infant Wariness toward Strangers Reconsidered: Infants' and Mothers' Reactions to Unfamiliar Persons

Karol Kaltenbach, Marsha Weinraub and William Fullard
Child Development
Vol. 51, No. 4 (Dec., 1980), pp. 1197-1202
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129561
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129561
Page Count: 6
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Infant Wariness toward Strangers Reconsidered: Infants' and Mothers' Reactions to Unfamiliar Persons
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Abstract

In this study, the interpretation of infants' responses to approaching strangers as "wariness" or "fear" was questioned by comparing infants' behaviors toward strangers with adults' behaviors toward strangers. 24 8-month-old infants and their mothers were observed in a standard laboratory situation. Both infants and mothers were approached by female strangers with a fast, 12-sec approach and a slow, 40-sec approach. Mothers' and infants' behaviors were coded at 4 distances during each approach. Behaviors coded were smile, alert face, quizzical look, frown, looks at mother/infant, looks at stranger, and averts gaze. Mothers showed significantly more behaviors typically labeled "wary" than did infants, particularly as the proximity of the stranger increased. These findings suggest that wary responses toward strangers are not unique to infants and may be more characteristic of the situation than of the developmental level of the individual.

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