Caregiver-infant Interactions


Feldman & Eidelman: mothers typically pick up and respond to infant alertness around two thirds of the time

Feldman: from around 3 months this interaction tends to be increasingly frequent and involves element of reciprocity

Brazelton et al: describe mother- baby interaction as a couple's dance- they take turns in interactions


  • Patterns of interactions from observations (Gratier) but difficult to be certain
  • Controlled- multiple angles filmed and babies do not care/know (can be a problem for observational studies)
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Caregiver-infant Interactions

Interactional synchrony

Feldman: the temporal co-ordination of micro-level social behaviour. Actions and emotions are mirrored

Meltzoff & Moore: observed beginnings of interactional synchrony from two weeks old. The child's response to parent was filmed and association was found

Isabella et al: observed 30 mothers and infants together and assessed degree of synchrony. Also assessed quality of attachment. Found that high levels of synchrony were associated with better attachments.


  • Feldman: points out that it IS simply describes behaviours occuring at the same time and does not tell us the purpose
  • Some evidence that IS are helpful in mother-infant attachment, as well as in other situations e.g. stress
  • Socially senisitve e.g. mothers hsould not return to work
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Role of the father

Schaffer & Emerson: found that majority of babies became attached to their mother first (around 7 months) and within a few weeks/months formed secondary attachmentsto toher members. 75% of infants attached to father by 18 months (protested when father walked away) 

Grossman: longitudinal study looking at both parents' behaviour and relatonship with child into their teens. Quality of infant attachment with mothers but not fathers was related to children's attachments in adolescent, suggesting father is less important. Fathers were found to be more important in playing.

Field: filmed 4 month old babies in interaction with mother as PC, dad as PC and dad as SC. Both PC spent more time smiling, imitating, holding etc (built in attachment). Key is level of responsiveness, not gender


  • Different researchers are inrterested in different things
  • MacCallum & Golombrook: have found that those growing up in single or same-sex families do not develop differently
  • Traditional gender roles may be the cause & oestrogen
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Learning theory

Dollard & Miller

Cuboard love- focus on food

They proposed that children will learn to love who feed them

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