Maternal sensitivity and infant triadic communication
Article first published online: 24 FEB 2004
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 45, Issue 3, pages 470–480, March 2004
How to Cite
Peter Hobson, R., Patrick, M. P.H., Crandell, L. E., García Pérez, R. M. and Lee, A. (2004), Maternal sensitivity and infant triadic communication. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45: 470–480. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00238.x
- Issue published online: 24 FEB 2004
- Article first published online: 24 FEB 2004
- Manuscript accepted 10 February 2003
- joint attention;
- non-verbal communication;
- secondary intersubjectivity;
- triadic relations
Background and method: The aim of this study was to examine whether a mother's sensitivity towards her one-year-old infant is related to the infant's propensity to engage in ‘triadic’ relations – that is, to orientate to an adult's engagement with objects and events in the world, for example in sharing experiences with an adult. In order to determine that any effects were specific to infants’ behaviour in the interpersonal domain, we also tested their performance on tests of understanding means–ends relations and object permanence.
Results: The results were that high maternal sensitivity and low intrusiveness correlated with high levels of infant triadic interpersonal engagement with a stranger vis-à-vis performance on the non-social tasks. There was also suggestive evidence that maternal sensitivity might be related to infants’ propensity to share experiences with the mother. Exploratory analyses revealed that these findings held up when the effects of maternal socio-economic status and ethnic group were taken into account; and there was some indication that the effects of maternal intrusiveness on infant profiles of performance were more marked for mothers who did not have a partner.
Conclusion: There is a specific relation between maternal sensitivity and one-year-old infants’ propensity to engage with someone else in relation to the world.