Neonatal imitation as a predictor of later caregiver-infant social interaction

Nguyen, My Nhi (2013). Neonatal imitation as a predictor of later caregiver-infant social interaction Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Nguyen, My Nhi
Thesis Title Neonatal imitation as a predictor of later caregiver-infant social interaction
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2013-09-10
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Professor Thomas Suddendorf
Total pages 65
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Neonatal imitation is the ability of newborns to reproduce the behaviours of others. Over the past 36 years, considerable research effort has been devoted to investigating the neonatal imitation phenomenon. Several competing interpretations have been proposed, but the mechanisms and functions of neonatal imitation have remained unclear. Meltzoff and Moore (1977) first described neonatal imitation, and suggested that the ability to imitate others is a form of social interaction. It has been proposed that various later developments in social cognition are based on the fundamental capacity for imitation in newborns. If this social interpretation holds, individual differences in neonatal imitation may predict later individual differences in social interaction. An early non-verbal measure of such individual differences is the stillface paradigm, in which caregivers interact with their infants until, upon a signal, they stop interacting and present a still-face. This paradigm measures infants’ emotional and behavioural responses to this unexpected halting of social interaction. Here I examine whether there are links between individual differences in neonatal imitation and later infant responses to the still-face situation. If Meltzoff and Moore are correct, greater imitation levels in newborn infants will be associated with more behavioural and emotional indicators of being upset later in life when caregivers do not respond socially. Archival data collected in (2009 - ) for a longitudinal neonatal project at the Early Cognitive Development Centre (ECDC) were used in this project. A final sample of 34 participants was tested on imitation when they were one week old, and on the still-face paradigm at 18 weeks of age. Contrary to predictions, results did not reveal any significant relationships between imitation scores and infant reactions to the still-face paradigm. Theoretical implications of the findings, as well as directions for future research are discussed.
Keyword Neonatal imitation
Social interaction

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Created: Tue, 08 Jul 2014, 18:52:00 EST by Danico Jones on behalf of School of Psychology