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Social & Personality Development in Infancy Chapter 6 Development Across the Life Span.

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Presentation on theme: "Social & Personality Development in Infancy Chapter 6 Development Across the Life Span."— Presentation transcript:


2 Social & Personality Development in Infancy Chapter 6 Development Across the Life Span

3 Forming the Roots of Sociability: Emotions in Infancy Emotions play an important role in the infants social and personality development! Across every culture, infants show similar facial expressions relating to basic emotions. Nonverbal encoding, the nonverbal expression of emotions is consistent across the life span.


5 Does this mean that they experience emotions though? Some researchers believe that if the display of emotion is innate, then facial expressions may only be a knee jerk reaction (no actual emotional experience) MOST developmental researchers disagree! They argue that nonverbal/facial expressions by infants represent emotional experience!

6 An example of this is the theory of developmental psychologist Carroll Izard… DIFFERENTIAL EMOTIONS THEORY suggests that emotional expressions not only reflect emotional experiences but also help in the regulation of emotion itself. Infants are born with an innate set of emotions As they grow up, they expand and modify these basic expressions, become better at control Overall: infants do display emotions, but range at birth is restricted (get more complex with age)

7 More about experiencing emotions… Stranger Anxiety and Separation Anxiety STRANGER ANXIETY is the caution and wariness displayed by infants when encountering an unfamiliar person. Appears in the second half of the first year. Infants with more experience with strangers tend to show less anxiety. Infants tend to show less anxiety with female strangers and other children than males. The same cognitive advances that allow infants to respond so positively to those with whom they are familiar also means they are able to recognize people who are unfamiliar.

8 SEPARATION ANXIETY is the distress displayed by infants when a customary care provider departs. Usually begins about 8 or 9 months and peaks at 14 months Starts slightly later than stranger anxiety Largely attributable to the same cognitive skills as stranger anxiety.  Both stranger & separation anxiety represent important social progress! They reflect cognitive advances in the infant, and growing emotional and social bonds!

9 Separation Anxiety Universal phenomenon Begins at 7 or 8 months Peaks at about 14 months Declines after this time

10 (experiencing emotions, continued) The infant’s 1 st smiles are relatively indiscriminate (smile at anything) By 6-9 weeks babies exhibit the SOCIAL SMILE, smiling in reference to other individuals. By 18 months, social smiling is directed more toward moms and other caregivers Infants are able to discriminate facial and vocal expressions of emotion early in infancy (sensitive to the emotional expressions of others by end of 2 nd year)

11 Decoding the vocal and facial expression of others… Infants can imitate adult facial expressions (but not necessarily understand them at first!) These imitative abilities pave the way for future nonverbal decoding abilities Infants learn early to encode and decode emotions; important in helping them express and understand emotion

12 More about understanding emotion… Social referencing: Feeling what others feel SOCIAL REFERENCING is the intentional search for information to help explain the meaning of uncertain circumstances and events (modeling others, mimicking expressions) First occurs in infants at about 8-9 months. Infants make particular use of facial expressions in their social referencing. Social referencing is most likely to occur in uncertain and ambiguous situations.

13 The Development of Self in Infancy The roots of SELF-AWARENESS, knowledge of self, begin to grow around 12 months. Self-awareness is assessed by the mirror and rouge task (p. 189) Most infants touch their nose to attempt to wipe off the rouge at months. Crying, when presented with complicated tasks, also implies consciousness that infants lack capability to carry out tasks.

14 Understanding Mental Processes Infants have a THEORY OF MIND, knowledge and beliefs about the mental world, at a fairly early age (explanations used by children to explain how others think) Infants see others as compliant agents, beings similar to themselves who behave under their own power and respond to the infant's requests.

15 (Understanding Mental Processes, continued) Children's capacity to understand internationality and causality grow during infancy. By age two, infants demonstrate EMPATHY, an emotional response that corresponds to the feelings of another person. By age two, children can "pretend".

16 Another aspect of social & personality development in infancy: Forging Relationships The most important form of social development that occurs during infancy is ATTACHMENT, the positive emotional bond that develops between a child and a particular individual.


18 Early researchers studied bonds between parents and children in the animal kingdom to understand attachment Lorenz studied imprinting in animals, the rapid, innate learning that takes place during a critical period and involves attachment to the first moving object observed. Freud suggested that attachment grew out of a mother's ability to satisfy a child's oral needs.

19 (Early researchers studying attachment, continued) Harlow showed, with monkeys, that food alone is insufficient to bring about attachment. In spite of the fact that the wire monkey provided food, the infant monkeys preferred clinging to the warm, terry cloth monkey


21 (Early researchers studying attachment, continued) The earliest work on humans was carried out by John Bowlby who suggested that attachment had a biological basis Viewed attachment as based on infant's needs for safety and security (especially from the mother) Attachment viewed as critical for allowing the infant to explore the world Having a strong, firm attachment provides a safe base from which the child can gain independence.


23 Based on Bowlby's work, Mary Ainsworth developed the AINSWORTH STRANGE SITUATION, a sequence of 8 staged episodes that illustrate the strength of attachment between a child and (typically) his or her mother.

24 The 8 staged episodes of the AINSWORTH STRANGE SITUATION 1. Mother & baby enter an unfamiliar room 2. Mother sits, letting baby explore 3. Adult stranger enters room can converses with mom and then baby 4. Mother exits the room, leaving baby with stranger 5. Mom returns; greets and comforts baby and stranger leaves 6. Mom departs leaving baby alone 7. Stranger returns 8. Mother returns and stranger leaves

25 Infants’ reactions to the strange situation vary considerably, depending on the nature of attachment with mother… a. 2/3 are SECURELY ATTACHED CHILDREN, who use mother as a safe base, at ease as long as she is present, exploring when they can see her, upset when she leaves, and go to her when she returns. a. 20 % are labeled AVOIDANT CHILDREN who do not seek proximity to the mother; after she leaves they seem to avoid her when she returns as if they are angered by her behavior.

26 (the strange situation technique, Mary Ainsworth, nature of attachment continued) About 12 % are AMBIVALENT CHILDREN who display a combination of positive and negative reactions to their mothers; they show great distress when the mother leaves, but upon her return they may simultaneously seek close contact but also hit and kick her. A more recent expansion of Ainsworth's work suggests a fourth category: DISORGANIZED- DISORIENTED CHILDREN who show inconsistent, often contradictory behavior, such as approaching the mother when she returns but not looking at her; they may be the least securely attached children of all.

27 (the strange situation technique, Mary Ainsworth, nature of attachment continued Infant attachment may have significant consequences for relationships at later stages in life. Not all children who are not securely attached as infants experience difficulties later in life; some research suggests that those who had avoidant and ambivalent attachment do quite well later in life.

28 Producing Attachment: The Roles of Mother & Father  Infants can attach to several caregivers. Mothers are most often the attachment figure. They are sensitive to their infant's needs. They are aware of the infant's moods. They provide appropriate responses. Attachment styles are stable from one generation to another.

29 (Producing Attachment: The Roles of Mother & Father, continued) Changing societal norms and current research show that some infants form strong multiple attachments, including to their fathers. When stressed, infants tend to prefer their mothers. Almost all fathers do contribute to child care. Fathers engage in more rough-and-tumble play; mothers spend more time feeding and nurturing. Over time, the specific individual that the infant is attached with may change

30 Infant Interactions: Developing a Working Relationship Variations in attachment highlight the fact that the development of relationships is an ongoing process Information about the development of relationships during infancy is studied by examining how parents interact with their children Facial/vocal expressions, games, etc.


32 (Infant Interactions: Developing a Working Relationship, continued) Some researchers believe that the development of relationships occurs according to the MUTUAL REGULATION MODEL, which states that infants and parents learn to communicate emotional states to one another and to respond accordingly. Attachment is further increased by the process of RECIPROCAL SOCIALIZATION, by which infant's behaviors invite further responses from parents and other caregivers.

33 Common Sequence of Infant-Caregiver Interactions

34 Infants’ Sociability with their peers… Infants react positively to the presence of other infants. They laugh, smile, and vocalize. They show more interest in infants than inanimate objects. By 1 year they show stronger preferences for familiar people than for strangers. 14-month-olds imitate each other. Infants can learn new behaviors, skills, and abilities from exposure to other children.

35 Differences among Infants Personality Development and Uniqueness The origins of PERSONALITY (the sum total of the enduring characteristics that differentiate one individual from another) begin in infancy

36 Personality Development and Uniqueness, continued Erik Erikson's THEORY OF PSYCHOSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT considers how individuals come to understand themselves and the meaning of others - and their own - behavior. The theory suggests that developmental change occurs throughout the life span in 8 distinct stages The first stage occurs in infancy, our current focus


38 ( Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, continued) Infancy marks the time of the TRUST-VERSUS- MISTRUST STAGE (birth to 18 months) during which infants develop a sense of trust or mistrust, largely depending on how well their needs are met by their caretakers. From around 18 months to 3 years infants enter the AUTONOMY-VERSUS-SHAME-AND-DOUBT STAGE during which Erikson believed toddlers develop either independence and autonomy (if they are allowed the freedom to explore) or shame and doubt (if they are restricted and overprotected).  Erikson argues that personality is largely shaped by infant's experiences

39 Another factor contributing to social/personality differences in infants…  TEMPERAMENT is the patterns of arousal and emotionality that are consistent and enduring characteristics of an individual. Temperament refers to how children behave. Temperamental differences among infants appear from the time of birth. Temperament shows stability from infancy through adolescence

40 (Temperament, continued) There are several dimensions to temperament. Activity level is the degree of overall movement. Irritability reflects the fact that some infants are easy-going while others are easily disturbed. (also table 6-2)  Alexander, Thomas, and Chess (1984) conducted a large scale study of infants (NY Longitudinal Study) and came up with three profiles of temperament…

41 Alexander, Thomas, and Chess continued Categorizing temperament: Easy, Difficult, and Slow-to-warm babies EASY BABIES have a positive disposition; their body functions operate regularly and they are adaptable. 40 %of infants DIFFICULT BABIES have negative moods and are slow to adapt to new situations; when confronted with a new situation, they tend to withdraw. 10 % of infants

42 Alexander, Thomas, and Chess continued Categorizing temperament: Easy, Difficult, and Slow-to-warm babies SLOW-TO-WARM-UP BABIES are inactive, showing relatively calm reactions to their environment; their moods are generally negative, and they withdraw from new situations, adapting slowly. 15 % of infants. ** The remaining 36 % cannot be consistently categorized.


44 No temperament is inherently good or bad. Long-term adjustment depends on the GOODNESS OF FIT, the notion that development is dependent on the degree of match between children's temperament and the nature and demands of the environment in which they are being raised.

45 Certain temperaments ar e more adaptive than others according to research Temperament is a key determinant is the way parents react to the infant's behavior. Temperament seems to be at least weakly related to infants’ attachment to their caregivers Culture also has a major influence on the consequences of a particular temperament (Crying, fussing rewarded in some cultures, punished in others) Buss and Plomin argue that temperament represents inherited traits which make up the core of personality

46 An infant's GENDER, the sense of being male or female, has effects throughout life.  It produces dissimilar worlds for members of each sex, even during infancy! Research shows… Fathers interact more with sons than daughters; mothers more with daughters. Infants wear different clothes and are given different toys based on gender. Infants' behavior is interpreted differently depending on gender.

47 (Gender effects on personality & social development, continued) Male infants are more active and fussier than females. By age one, infants are able to distinguish between males and females. Differences within gender are greater than those between genders. Gender differences become increasingly influenced by gender roles in society.

48 Other environmental effects on social/personality development… Family life in the 21 st century  Statistics about family life show that today infants are being raised in stressful environments. 27 % of all families are headed by single parents. 65% OF African American Children live in single parent homes 37% of Hispanic children 25 %+ of births are to unwed mothers. 1/4 of families with children live in poverty. Society must continue to adapt to the realities of family life this century (day care, other support)

49 The effects of day care on social and personality development 30% of preschool children whose mothers work outside the home spend time in day care centers. More than 80% of infants are cared for by people other than their mothers during their first year of life.

50 Relative’s home 15% Non-Relative’s Home 16% Childcare/preschool 29% Child’s Home 33% Other 7% Where are Children Cared For?

51 Does being cared for outside the home significantly impact infant development? A large study by the U.S. National Institute of Child health & Development found that high- quality child care outside the home produces only MINOR differences from home care, and may even enhance certain aspects of development!

52 Day Care: assessing outcomes Possible advantages higher levels of play more laughing better attachment less physically violent more sociable and cooperative More independent Possible disadvantages Less secure attachment Less obedient More aggression ~More research is needed!

53 Positive aspects are related to the high quality of the center and the amount of time the infant spends in day care. Many negative studies conducted in inner city/less well funded day care centers

54 Don’t forget to keep up with your reading!

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