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Social and Personality Development in Infancy
Chapter 6
Robert S. Feldman
Do Infants Experience Emotional Highs and Lows?
Basic Familiar Expressions
Remarkably similar across the most diverse cultures
Nonverbal encoding (nonverbal expression of emotion) fairly consistent among people of all ages

Infant Emotional Expressions
At birth:
Over next months: clues of other emotions emerge

Mothers report interest & joy by 1 month; most also report anger and surprise

Facial Expression of Emotions

Important nonverbal communication tool used in everyday social interactions

But…what are emotions?
True emotions have three components:
Biological arousal (i.e., increased breathing, heart rate)
Cognitive component (awareness of feeling)
Behavioral components (display emotion)
Infant Emotions & Brain Development
Advances in infants’ emotional life are made possible by increasing sophistication of brain

Initially, differentiation of emotions occurs as cerebral cortex becomes operative in first three months of life

By age of 9 or 10 months, structures that make up limbic system (the site of emotional reactions) begin to grow

Limbic system starts to work in tandem with frontal lobes, allowing for increased range of emotions
Stranger Anxiety
Stranger anxiety
Memory developsability to recognize familiar people emergesabililty to anticipate and predict events increasesappearance of unknown person causes fear
Common around 6 months
Significant difference among infants and situations (less anxiety if lots of experience with strangers, less anxiety with women & children)
A Closer Look…Stranger Anxiety
Separation Anxiety
Distress displayed by infants when a customary care provider departs
Separation Anxiety
Separation Anxiety
Universal across cultures
Begins about 7-8 months; peaks around 14 months
Largely attributable to same reasons as stranger anxiety
Stranger & separation anxiety reflect important social progress: cognitive advances & growing emotional bonds
Earliest smiles: little meaning
6 to 9 weeks:
Begin reliable smiling
Smile first relatively indiscriminate then selective
18 months:
Social smiling more frequent toward humans than nonhuman objects
End of 2nd year:
Use smiling purposefully
Show sensitivity to emotional expressions of others
Decoding Others’ Facial and Vocal Expressions
Imitative abilities early in life may pave way for nonverbal decoding
Infants interpret others’ facial and vocal expressions that carry meaning
In first 6 to 8 weeks – little attention, poor vision
By 5 months – discriminate happy & sad expressions
By 7 months – respond to appropriately matched vocal & facial expressions
Social Referencing
Social referencing: the intentional search for information about others’ feelings to help explain the meaning of uncertain circumstances and events
First occurs around 8-9 months
Intentional search for cues
Aids in understanding others’ behavior in context

How does social referencing operate?
Two views:
Observing someone else’s facial expression brings about emotion expression represents
Viewing another’s facial expression simply provides information
Do infants really know who they are?
Development of Self-Awareness
Roots of self-awareness
Begin to grow around 12 months
Rouge spot
Average awareness begins 17 to 24 months
Complicated tasks requests
Awareness of inabilities around 23-24 months
Theory of Mind
Theory of mind
Knowledge and beliefs about how the mind works and influences behavior

Child explanations used to explain how others think
How does a theory of mind develop?
See other people as compliant agents
Begin to understand causality and intentionality
Demonstrate rudiments of empathy by 2, demonstrating others have feelings different from their own; may show care
Begin to pretend and use deception to fool others in 2nd year, demonstrating others hold beliefs about the world
What is attachment?
Positive emotional bond that develops between a child and a particular, special individual
Most important aspect of infant social development
Provides pleasure and comfort
Understanding Attachment
Earliest animal research suggests attachment based on biologically determined factors
Lorenz imprinted goslings
Harlow contact-seeking monkeys

Understanding Attachment

The Strange Situation
Ainsworth Strange Situation
Widely used experimental technique to measure attachment
Sequence of staged episodes that illustrate strength of attachment between child and (typically) mother

Do all infants attach?
Reactions to Strange Situation vary considerably
One-year-olds typically show one of four major patterns

(See Table 6-1 for summary)
Table 6-1
Does the quality of attachment have significant consequences for later life relationships?
Securely attached 1- year-old males show fewer psychological difficulties at older ages

Securely attached infants are more socially and emotionally competent later and more positively viewed

Adult romantic relationships are associated with attachment style developed during infancy
Children who do not have a secure attachment style during infancy do not invariably experience difficulties later in life

Children with a secure attachment at age 1 do not always have good adjustment later in life

What roles do parents play in producing attachment?
Sensitivity to their infants’ needs and desires is hallmark of mothers of securely attached infants
Aware of moods and feelings
Responsive in face-to-face interactions
Feeds “on demand”
Demonstrates warmth and affection
Responds rapidly and positively to cues

“Interactional Synchrony”

How do mothers learn to respond?
Influences from:
Generational attachment patterns
Infant’s ability to provide effective cues

What roles do parents play in producing attachment?
Little consideration of father’s role in early theory

But social norms are changing

Expressions of nurturance, warmth, affection, support, and concern are extremely important to infant emotional and social well-being
Attachment to Multiple People
Infants’ social bonds extend beyond their parents, especially as they grow older
Most infants form their first primary relationship with one person
One-third have multiple relationships
By18 months, most infants have formed multiple relationships

Parental Involvement
Nature of maternal and paternal attachment differs based on activities
Mothers spend greater proportion of time feeding & directly nurturing
Fathers spend greater proportion of time playing & engage in more physical play
95% of fathers contribute to care, but on average they do less than mothers
Developmental Diversity
Does attachment differ across cultures?
Research findings suggest human attachment is not as culturally universal as Bowlby predicted
Certain attachment patterns seem more likely among infants of particular cultures:
Germany: most avoidant
Israel and Japan: fewer secure than U.S.
China and Canada: Chinese children more inhibited than Canadian children in Strange Situation
Attachment is viewed as susceptible to cultural norms and expectations

Cross-cultural and within-cultural differences reflect nature of research measure used and expectations of various cultures

Attachment should be viewed as a general tendency, that varies in way it is expressed according to how actively caregivers in a society seek to instill independence in their children

Secure attachment, as defined by the Western-oriented Strange Situation, is seen earliest in cultures that promote independence, but may be delayed in societies in which independence is less important cultural value
Developing Working Relationships
Relationship development is ongoing process
Communication of emotional states facilitated through mutual regulation model
Young infants are able to read, or decode, and react to facial expressions of their caregivers through reciprocal socialization

Infant-Caregiver Interaction
Babies & Peers
Babies react positively to presence of peers from early in life and engage in rudimentary forms of social interaction

Infants’ sociability is expressed in several ways
Earliest months of life – smile, laugh, vocalize
Nine- to twelve-month-olds – present and accept toys & play social games like peek-a-boo
Mirror Neurons
Mirror neurons
Fire not only when an individual enacts particular behavior, but also when individual simply observes another organism carrying out same behavior
Help infants understand others’ actions and to develop theory of mind
Dysfunction may be related to some developmental disorders
Characteristics That Make Infants Unique
Sum total of enduring characteristics differentiating one individual from another
From birth onward, infants begin to show unique, stable traits and behaviors that ultimately lead to their development as distinct, special individuals
Erikson: Psychosocial Development
Early experiences responsible for shaping key aspects of personalities
Stage 1: trust versus mistrust
Trust = sense of hope and success
Mistrust = sense of harsh, unfriendly world

Stage 2: autonomy-versus-shame-and-doubt stage (18-36 months)
Autonomy = sense of independence
Shame and doubt = sense of self-doubt and unhappiness

Another View: Temperament and Stabilities in Infant Behavior
What is temperament?

Patterns of arousal and emotionality that are consistent and enduring characteristics of an individual
How does temperament apply to infants?
Refers to how children behave, as opposed to what they do or why they do it
Displays as differences in general disposition from birth, largely due initially to genetic factors
Tends to be fairly stable well into adolescence
Is not fixed and unchangeable and can be modified by childrearing practices
Dimensions of Temperament
Activity level
Categorizing Temperament
Babies can be described according to one of several temperament profiles:
Easy babies—positive disposition, adaptable, moderate or low intensity emotions (40%)
Difficult babies—more negative moods, slow to adapt to new situations (10%)
Slow-to-warm up babies—inactive, withdraw from new situations (15%)
Inconsistently categorized babies (35%)
Does temperament matter? What matters most: “Goodness of fit.”
Biological Basis of Temperament
Recent approaches to temperament grow out of behavioral genetics framework
Physiological reactivity to novel stimuli
Clear biological basis underlying inhibition to the unfamiliar
Rapid increase in heartbeat, blood pressure, pupil dilation, and high excitability of brain’s limbic system

Gender-Based Responses by Adults
Parent-child play patterns
Different styles of activity and interaction from parents
Parental gender-based interpretation of child behavior

Gender Differences
Adults view behavior of children through lens of gender
All cultures prescribe gender roles for males and females
These roles differ greatly between cultures
Considerable amount of disagreement over extent and causes of gender differences
Differences between male and female infants are generally minor
Development of Gender Roles
By age 1:
Able to distinguish between males and females
Girls prefer to play with dolls or stuffed animals, while boys seek out blocks and trucks
By age 2:
Boys behave more independently and less compliantly than girls
May be reinforced by parents’ actions--encourage boys to explore, while girls are kept close
Hormonal levels may also play a part
Gender Differences--Summary
Differences in behavior between boys and girls begin in infancy and continue throughout childhood (and beyond).
Gender differences have complex causes, representing some combination of innate, biologically related factors and environmental factors.
These differences play profound role in social and emotional development of infants.
Family Life in 21st Century
Number of single-parent families has increased dramatically in last two decades
Average size of families is shrinking
Despite overall decline, half million births to teenage women, the vast majority of whom are unmarried
Close to 50% of children under age of 3 are cared for by other adults while their parents work, and more than half of mothers of infants work outside home
One in three US children lives in low income households
Effects of Child Care
Good news: Direct benefits
High-quality child care outside home produces only minor differences

Good news: Indirect benefits
Children in lower income households and those whose mothers are single may benefit
Bad news:
Infants less secure when in low-quality child care

Children who spend long hours have lower ability to work independently

Children who spend ten or more hours a week in group child care for a year or more have an increased probability of being disruptive in class