Attention-Seeking During Caregiver Unavailability and Collaboration at Age 2


  • This study was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Centre for Research in Human Development. We would like to thank JoAnn L. Robinson, Paul D. Hastings, and the anonymous reviewers for their feedback on the manuscript. We are also grateful to the members of the Concordia Collaboration Laboratory, and to the families who participated in this study.

concerning this article should be addressed to Marie-Pierre M. Gosselin, Department of Psychology, Centre for Research in Human Development, 7141 Sherbrooke W., Concordia University, Montreal, QC, H4B 1R6. Electronic mail may be sent to


Several theoretical approaches have discussed the role of children’s expectations of their parent’s responsiveness in explaining motivation to collaborate in acquiring skills. This study attempted to measure these expectations in 102 toddlers (M age = 26.4 months) through observations of attention-seeking (A-S) behaviors during caregiver’s restricted availability. Child collaboration was coded during skill-learning tasks (imitation and block building), and parent responsiveness was observed during dyadic activities. Different A-S styles emerged, supporting the existence of both positive and negative expectations of responsiveness. A-S quality statistically mediated the link between parent responsiveness and child collaborative outcomes, even after controlling for temperament and mood. This is the first study to show that toddlers’ expectations are a plausible mechanism linking parent responsiveness to child collaboration.