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  • Ellis-Davies, K., Sakkalou, E., Fowler, N., Hilbrink, E., & Gattis, M. (2012). CUE: The continuous unified electronic diary method. Behavior Research Methods, 44, 1063-1078. doi:10.3758/s13428-012-0205-1.


    In the present article, we introduce the continuous unified electronic (CUE) diary method, a longitudinal, event-based, electronic parent report method that allows real-time recording of infant and child behavior in natural contexts. Thirty-nine expectant mothers were trained to identify and record target behaviors into programmed handheld computers. From birth to 18 months, maternal reporters recorded the initial, second, and third occurrences of seven target motor behaviors: palmar grasp, rolls from side to back, reaching when sitting, pincer grip, crawling, walking, and climbing stairs. Compliance was assessed as two valid entries per behavior: 97 % of maternal reporters met compliance criteria. Reliability was assessed by comparing diary entries with researcher assessments for three of the motor behaviors: palmar grasp, pincer grip and walking. A total of 81 % of maternal reporters met reliability criteria. For those three target behaviors, age of emergence was compared across data from the CUE diary method and researcher assessments. The CUE diary method was found to detect behaviors earlier and with greater sensitivity to individual differences. The CUE diary method is shown to be a reliable methodological tool for studying processes of change in human development.
  • Hilbrink, E., Gattis, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Early developmental changes in the timing of turn-taking: A longitudinal study of mother-infant interaction. Frontiers in Psychology, 6: 1492. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01492.


    To accomplish a smooth transition in conversation from one speaker to the next, a tight coordination of interaction between speakers is required. Recent studies of adult conversation suggest that this close timing of interaction may well be a universal feature of conversation. In the present paper, we set out to assess the development of this close timing of turns in infancy in vocal exchanges between mothers and infants. Previous research has demonstrated an early sensitivity to timing in interactions (e.g. Murray & Trevarthen, 1985). In contrast, less is known about infants’ abilities to produce turns in a timely manner and existing findings are rather patchy. We conducted a longitudinal study of twelve mother-infant dyads in free-play interactions at the ages of 3, 4, 5, 9, 12 and 18 months. Based on existing work and the predictions made by the Interaction Engine Hypothesis (Levinson, 2006), we expected that infants would begin to develop the temporal properties of turn-taking early in infancy but that their timing of turns would slow down at 12 months, which is around the time when infants start to produce their first words. Findings were consistent with our predictions: Infants were relatively fast at timing their turn early in infancy but slowed down towards the end of the first year. Furthermore, the changes observed in infants’ turn-timing skills were not caused by changes in maternal timing, which remained stable across the 3-18 month period. However, the slowing down of turn-timing started somewhat earlier than predicted: at 9 months.

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