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How experience shapes infants' communicative behaviour: Comparing gaze following in infants with and without pandemic experience


Wermelinger, Stephanie; Moersdorf, Lea; Daum, Moritz M (2022). How experience shapes infants' communicative behaviour: Comparing gaze following in infants with and without pandemic experience. Infancy, 27(5):937-962.

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has been influencing people's social life substantially. Everybody, including infants and children needed to adapt to changes in social interactions (e.g., social distancing) and to seeing other people wearing facial masks. In this study, we investigated whether these pandemic-related changes influenced 12- to 15-months-old infants' reactions to observed gaze shifts (i.e., their gaze following). In two eye-tracking tasks, we measured infants' gaze-following behavior during the pandemic (with-COVID-19-experience sample) and compared it to data of infants tested before the pandemic (no-COVID-19-experience sample). Overall, the results indicated no significant differences between the two samples. However, in one sub-task infants in the with-COVID-19-experience sample looked longer at the eyes of a model compared to the no-COVID-19-experience sample. Within the with-COVID-19-experience sample, the amount of mask exposure and the number of contacts without mask were not related to infants' gaze-following behavior. We speculate that even though infants encounter fewer different people during the pandemic and are increasingly exposed to people wearing facial masks, they still also see non-covered faces. These contacts might be sufficient to provide infants with the social input they need to develop social and emotional competencies such as gaze following.

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has been influencing people's social life substantially. Everybody, including infants and children needed to adapt to changes in social interactions (e.g., social distancing) and to seeing other people wearing facial masks. In this study, we investigated whether these pandemic-related changes influenced 12- to 15-months-old infants' reactions to observed gaze shifts (i.e., their gaze following). In two eye-tracking tasks, we measured infants' gaze-following behavior during the pandemic (with-COVID-19-experience sample) and compared it to data of infants tested before the pandemic (no-COVID-19-experience sample). Overall, the results indicated no significant differences between the two samples. However, in one sub-task infants in the with-COVID-19-experience sample looked longer at the eyes of a model compared to the no-COVID-19-experience sample. Within the with-COVID-19-experience sample, the amount of mask exposure and the number of contacts without mask were not related to infants' gaze-following behavior. We speculate that even though infants encounter fewer different people during the pandemic and are increasingly exposed to people wearing facial masks, they still also see non-covered faces. These contacts might be sufficient to provide infants with the social input they need to develop social and emotional competencies such as gaze following.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Language
150 Psychology
370 Education
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health
Social Sciences & Humanities > Developmental and Educational Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Developmental and Educational Psychology, Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health
Language:English
Date:1 September 2022
Deposited On:31 Jan 2023 15:42
Last Modified:27 Feb 2024 02:56
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1525-0008
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/infa.12488
PubMed ID:35765963
Project Information:
  • : FunderUniversität Zürich
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderFoundation for Research in Science and the Humanities
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)