A Longitudinal Exploration of Infants’ Social Looks in Naturalistic Settings

PANELLA-PERAL, Silvia (2020). A Longitudinal Exploration of Infants’ Social Looks in Naturalistic Settings. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00354


Most social referencing studies have examined how infants use non-verbal, affective information from an adult to disambiguate an uncertain object, an event or situation in order to regulate their behaviour (Campos & Stenberg,1981; Feinman,1982, 1992) using experimental designs within laboratory settings. Clyman, Emde, Kempe & Harmon, (1986) – responding to these highly contrived social referencing paradigms - conducted a semi-naturalistic study of social referencing and social looks to examine types of social looks functioning as infants’ gathering information from the adult. The authors created a typology of 8 types of social looks using a modified version of the ‘Stranger Situation’ paradigm. Despite Clyman et al.’s attempts to shift social referencing research into qualitative approaches, the study encountered some pragmatical and conceptual difficulties that affected the reliability of the typology. This thesis is an extension of the work conducted by Clyman et al., (1986) by longitudinally exploring social looks in naturalistic settings at three different developmental time points (Time 1=12-14 months; Time 2=15-17 months; Time 3=24-26 months). Through coding analysis of behavioural observations, a typology of 14 descriptive looking concepts was created, embedded within six different social dimensions. The novel typology was applied to a small cohort of infants at-risk of being autistic (n=2). Quantitative analysis provided additional information related to patterns of social looks amongst infants across time points as well as in comparison with the two infants at-risk. Results showed that infants used looking as both direct and indirect forms of social participation. Additionally, infants’ elicitation of social looks is characterised by being socially mediated by adults and highly influenced by the context, providing the necessary interpersonal information to make meaning of social interactions as well as macro-structural knowledge of norms and expectations of the setting. Distribution of looks showed that the two most prevalent categories across the three-time points corresponded to ‘Watching an Adult’ and ‘Glancing’. These findings differ from those of the Clyman et al., (1986) study, where ‘Initiates Bids for Interaction’ category – both short and long - represented the most frequent look. This thesis found similar results concerning social referencing looks, as represented one of the least frequent categories. Infants at-risk presented a different pattern of looking as ‘Glancing’ constituted the most prominent look followed by ‘Watching the Adult’. This thesis constitutes the first longitudinal study that conceptualises infants’ social looks within naturalistic settings, contributing to knowledge on attentional processes and how they might influence infants’ social development. Additionally, it provides preliminary data of possible differences in social looking in infants at-risk of being autistic.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Beardon, Luke [0000-0002-7487-3723]
Thesis advisor - Jay, Tim [0000-0003-4759-9543]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Luke Beardon / Supervisor: Prof. Tim Jay
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00354
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2021 16:01
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:08
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28516

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