The link between maternal interaction style and infant action understanding

Hofer T., Hohenberger A., Hauf P., Aschersleben G.

INFANT BEHAVIOR & DEVELOPMENT, vol.31, no.1, pp.115-126, 2008 (SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 31 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2007.07.003
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.115-126
  • Keywords: maternal interaction style, infants, early action understanding, goal-directed actions, COGNITIVE-DEVELOPMENT, HABITUATION, OBJECT, RESPONSIVENESS, SENSITIVITY, PREDICTORS, ATTACHMENT, LANGUAGE, BEHAVIOR, MOTHERS
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The present study investigates whether the maternal interaction style is related to 6-month-old infants' action interpretation. We tested 6-month-olds ability to interpret an unfamiliar human action as goal-directed using a modified version of the paradigm used by Woodward, A. L. (1999). Infant's ability to distinguish between purposeful and non-purposeful behaviours. Infant Behavior & Development, 22, 145-160 and Kiraly, I., Jovanovic, B., Prinz, W., Aschersleben, G., & Gergely, G. (2003). The early origins of goal attribution in infancy. Consciousness & Cognition, 12, 732-751. Additionally, all infants and their mothers participated in a free play situation to assess maternal interaction styles as measured by the CARE-Index. According to mothers' distinct interaction styles, infants were divided into three groups. Results suggest that at 6 months of age infants of mothers with a modestly controlling interaction style are better at interpreting a human action as goal-directed than infants of sensitive and relative unresponsive mothers. The ability to understand human action as goal-directed might be a corollary of an adaptive strategy in infancy. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.