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Infant Joint Attention, Temperament, and Social Competence in Preschool Children


  • Amy Vaughan Van Hecke is now at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. C. Françoise Acra is now at the New York University Child Study Center, New York University, New York, NY. Meaghan V. Parlade is now at the Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.
    This research was supported by NICHD Grant 38052 (P. Mundy, P.I.) and in part by NIMH NRSA Grant MH72207 (A. Vaughan Van Hecke, P.I.). This paper is the result of a doctoral dissertation written at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, by the first author. Many thanks are due to the families for participating in the study, to Peter C. Mundy for outstanding mentorship, and to Olga Bazhenova for helpful comments on aspects of the analyses.

concerning this article should be addressed to Amy Vaughan Van Hecke, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1747 W. Roosevelt Rd., Rm. 155, Chicago, IL 60608. Electronic mail may be sent to


Infant joint attention has been observed to be related to social-emotional outcomes in at-risk children. To address whether this relation is also evident in typically developing children, 52 children were tested at 12, 15, 24, and 30 months to examine associations between infant joint attention and social outcomes. Twelve-month initiating and responding to joint attention were related to 30-month social competence and externalizing behavior, even when accounting for 15-month temperament ratings, 24-month cognition and language, and demographic variables. These results suggest that, in addition to associations with language and cognition, infant joint attention reflects robust aspects of development that are related to individual differences in the emergence of social and behavioral competence in childhood.