Five-month-old infants attend to responsive caregivers

TitleFive-month-old infants attend to responsive caregivers
Publication TypeConference Poster
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSpokes, AC, Venkatesan, T, Spelke, ES
Conference NameCognitive Development Society (CDS)
Place PublishedPortland, OR

Toddlers are sensitive to comforting interactions in animated events with geometric forms of different sizes that first move together, then separate, prompting the smaller form to emit a baby's cry (Johnson et al., 2007), and they expect adults who comfort the same crying baby to engage with one another (Spokes & Spelke, 2017), but an earlier sensitivity to comforting interactions is unknown. Two OSF- preregistered experiments (N=32) asked if 5-month-old infants prefer an adult who comforts a crying baby over one who does not. In Experiment 1, infants viewed alternating events in which a baby cried, and two adults responded by approaching or fleeing the baby, moving the same distances in different directions. When the adults then appeared together without the baby for one 20-sec visual preference trial, infants looked longer to the responsive adult, M = 0.608, SD = 0.206, t(15) = 2.167, p = 0.047, Figure 1. Experiment 2 replaced the crying baby with a car emitting a siren noise, comparable in salience to a baby's cry. Infants looked as long at approach and avoid events as in Exp. 1 but showed no test preference for the adult who approached the car, M = 0.486, SD = 0.212, t(15) = 0.264, p = 0.795, Figure 1. Infants' looking patterns in Exp. 1 thus cannot be explained by a general preference for an approaching over avoiding adult and suggest that infants attend to more responsive caregivers before they can approach or use language to communicate with their own social partners.

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