Educating attention: Recruiting, maintaining, and framing eye contact in early natural motherinfant interactions

Interaction Studies 14 (2):240-267 (2013)
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Abstract

In a longitudinal naturalistic study, we observed German mothers interacting with their infants when they were 3 and 6 months old. Pursuing the idea that infants’ attention is socialized in everyday interactions, we explored whether eye contact is reinforced selectively by behavioral modification in the input provided to infants. Applying a microanalytical approach focusing on the sequential organization of interaction, we explored how the mother draws the infant’s attention to herself and how she tries to maintain attention when the infant is looking at her. Results showed that eye contact is reinforced by specific infant-directed practices: interrogatives and conversational openings, multimodal stimulation, repetition, and imitation. In addition, these practices are contingent on the infant’s own behavior. By comparing the two data points (3 and 6 months), we showed how the education of attention evolves hand-in-hand with the developing capacities of the infant. Keywords: multimodal input; eye contact; interactional adaptation; ecology of attention; social learning

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Citations of this work

Language-at all times.Iris Nomikou, Malte Schilling, Vivien Heller & Katharina J. Rohlfing - 2016 - Interaction Studies. Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies / Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systemsinteraction Studies 17 (1):128-153.
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