Maternal Tactile-Gestural Stimulation and Infants’ Nonverbal Behaviors During Early Mother-Infant Face-to-Face Interactions: Contextual, Age, and Birth Status Effects

Maternal Tactile-Gestural Stimulation and Infants’ Nonverbal Behaviors During Early Mother-Infant Face-to-Face Interactions: Contextual, Age, and Birth Status Effects

Maternal Tactile-Gestural Stimulation and Infants’ Nonverbal Behaviors During Early Mother-Infant Face-to-Face Interactions: Contextual, Age, and Birth Status Effects

Maternal Tactile-Gestural Stimulation and Infants’ Nonverbal Behaviors During Early Mother-Infant Face-to-Face Interactions: Contextual, Age, and Birth Status Effectss

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1. Objectifs


Intentions :
Study 1:
« The two general objectives of Study 1 were: (1) to examine contextual and developmental influences on the duration of maternal tactile and gestural stimulation, as well as the qualitative aspects of maternal touch employed during face-to-face interactions with infants aged 3½ to 5½ months, as well as (2) infants’ behavioral responses to these forms of stimulation. » (p. 49)
Study 2:
« The general objective of this study was to examine whether mothers’ uses of tactile and gestural stimulation differed toward full-term and very low birth weight pre-term (VLBW-PT) infants, and to examine infants’ nonverbal behaviors as indices of engagement and disengagement in response to these forms of stimulation. » (p. 53)

Questions/Hypothèses :
Study 1:
« It has been hypothesized that the physical proximity established within the face-to-face context permits mothers to more readily detect and react to their infants’ signals of engagement and disengagement. Furthermore, through their behavior in this context, mothers are argued to provide their infants with varying sources and levels of external stimulation, and to facilitate their infants’ attempts at adapting their behaviors toward the end of successful arousal regulation. » (p. 49)
Study 2:
« It was hypothesized that VLBW-PT infants would smile less than NBW-FT (normal birth weight full-term) infants, reflecting their diminished expression of positive arousal. In addition, VLBW-PT infants were expected to gaze less at their mothers’ faces, to gaze away more, and to fret more that NBW-FT infants, reflecting their increased expression of negative arousal. » (p. 165)

2. Méthode


Échantillon/Matériau :
Study 1
The final sample constisted of 115 infants, 60 3½ month-olds (30 males, 30 females) and 55 5½ month-olds (28 males, 27 females) and their mothers.
Study 2:
The sample consisted of 30 infants (15 VLB-PT and 15 NBW-FT) and their mothers.

Instruments :
Study 1 and study 2:
- Special apparatus to stimulate mother-child interaction
- Coding system for video records
- CITS (Stack et al., 1998)
- Questions regarding general demographic information and infants’ medical history

Type de traitement des données :
Analyse statistique

3. Résumé


« The preverbal period of infancy is characterized by the absence of receptive and expressive verbal communication and substantial reliance on nonverbal forms of communication. Although nonverbal behavior is believed to be particularly salient to infants during early infancy, little is known about the nonverbal strategies that mothers employ when attempting to influence their infants’ behavior or state of arousal, or about infants’ nonverbal behavioral reactions to such stimulation. The two studies comprising this dissertation aimed to examine contextual, developmental, and birth status effects on the expressions of maternal and infant nonverbal behavior. In Study 1, maternal tactile-gestural stimulation and infants’ gaze and affect were assessed during four brief interaction periods. Contextual variations to the interaction were introduced by: (a) providing different instructions to mothers on the behavior/state to elicit from their infants, and (b) varying the method by which mothers attempted to accomplish these goals (uni-modal touch only vs. multi-modal). Two within modality comparisons were conducted to evaluate whether the instructions to mothers to modify their infants’ behavior/state of arousal actually influenced mothers’ tactile-gestural behavior and infants’ gaze and affect. A subsequent comparison between the uni-modal and multi-modal groups was then conducted to specifically examine whether, and in what way, mothers’ and infants’ nonverbal behaviors differed when these identical instructions were attempted in different ways. Within each of these comparisons, developmental differences were assessed by examining infants at 3½ and 5½ months. In addition, patterns of co-occurrence were evaluated to assess for differences in the organization of nonverbal behaviors. The results of Study 1 revealed differences in the amount of maternal touch and gestures, the qualities of maternal touch, infants’ gaze and affect, and the organization of these behaviors as a function of the context of the interaction. Developmental differences in the expression of these behaviors were also noted with age. Older infants gazed away more from their mothers. Furthermore, supporting the transition from proximal to distal forms of communication with age, mothers touched their 3½ month-olds more and gestured toward them less than mothers of 5½ month-olds. Mothers were also found to use different types of touch with their infants and to touch them on different areas of their bodies with age. In Study 2, mothers’ uses of touch and gesture and infants’ gaze and affect were examined in very low birth weight pre-term (VLBW-PT) and normal birth weight full-term (NBW-FT) infants during a brief period of maternal affective disengagement achieved through use of the SF procedure. Contrary to previous suggestions, the results of Study 2 indicated that the infant’s birth status did not appear to contribute to differences in maternal touching or gesturing, but was associated with differences in infants’ affective expressions and some small differences in the organization of nonverbal behaviors. Taken together, the results of these studies underscore the importance of nonverbal behavior in eliciting, directing, and maintaining social interactions from 3½ to 5½ months of age and highlight the considerable breadth and diversity of touch and gesture as a communicative channel in early mother-infant social interactions. » (p. iv)