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The Effect of Manipulating Maternal Behavior during an Interaction on Three- and Six-Month-Olds' Affect and Attention

Joanne L. Gusella, Darwin Muir and Edward Z. Tronick
Child Development
Vol. 59, No. 4 (Aug., 1988), pp. 1111-1124
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130278
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130278
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Effect of Manipulating Maternal Behavior during an Interaction on Three- and Six-Month-Olds' Affect and Attention
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Abstract

3 studies were designed to examine the "still-face" paradigm, in which mothers stared at their 3- or 6-month-olds for a brief, still-face period interposed between 2 periods of normal fce-to-face interaction. 6-month-olds decreased smiling and gazing at their mothers and grimaced more during the still-face period relative to the other periods; no period effects occurred in a no-change control group (Studies 1 and 2). Similar results were obtained when mothers and their infants observed and interacted with each other over closed-circuit color television monitors (Study 3). Moreover, the same relative decline in the infants' visual attention and positive affect during the still-face period occurred to a change in mothers' facial display (a televised, prerecorded, still face vs. a televised, live, interacting face) regardless of the presence or absence of their interactive voices (sound on the infants' monitor turned on or off). 3-month-olds exhibited a significant still-face effect, but only when maternal touch was a part of the manipulation (Study 1 vs. 2); therefore, the televised procedure was not conducted. The still-face effect is a robust phenomenon, produced with either "live" or "televised" procedures, both of which offer promising techniques for examining models of socioemotional perception/understanding of infants.

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