Publications

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4
  • 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.

    Abstract

    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.
  • Hilbrink, E., Sakkalou, E., Ellis-Davies, K., Fowler, N., & Gattis, M. (2013). Selective and faithful imitation at 12 and 15 months. Developmental Science., 16(6), 828-840. doi:10.1111/desc.12070.

    Abstract

    Research on imitation in infancy has primarily focused on what and when infants imitate. More recently, however, the question why infants imitate has received renewed attention, partly motivated by the finding that infants sometimes selectively imitate the actions of others and sometimes faithfully imitate, or overimitate, the actions of others. The present study evaluates the hypothesis that this varying imitative behavior is related to infants' social traits. To do so, we assessed faithful and selective imitation longitudinally at 12 and 15 months, and extraversion at 15 months. At both ages, selective imitation was dependent on the causal structure of the act. From 12 to 15 months, selective imitation decreased while faithful imitation increased. Furthermore, infants high in extraversion were more faithful imitators than infants low in extraversion. These results demonstrate that the onset of faithful imitation is earlier than previously thought, but later than the onset of selective imitation. The observed relation between extraversion and faithful imitation supports the hypothesis that faithful imitation is driven by the social motivations of the infant. We call this relation the King Louie Effect: like the orangutan King Louie in The Jungle Book, infants imitate faithfully due to a growing interest in the interpersonal nature of interactions.
  • Sakkalou, E., Ellis-Davies, K., Fowler, N., Hilbrink, E., & Gattis, M. (2013). Infants show stability of goal-directed imitation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2012.09.005.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have reported that infants selectively reproduce observed actions and have argued that this selectivity reflects understanding of intentions and goals, or goal-directed imitation. We reasoned that if selective imitation of goal-directed actions reflects understanding of intentions, infants should demonstrate stability across perceptually and causally dissimilar imitation tasks. To this end, we employed a longitudinal within-participants design to compare the performance of 37 infants on two imitation tasks, with one administered at 13 months and one administered at 14 months. Infants who selectively imitated goal-directed actions in an object-cued task at 13 months also selectively imitated goal-directed actions in a vocal-cued task at 14 months. We conclude that goal-directed imitation reflects a general ability to interpret behavior in terms of mental states.
  • 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.

    Abstract

    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.

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