By published 2015
Attachment can be defined as an emotional bond between two people in which each seeks closeness and feels more secure when in the presence of the attachment figure.
Caregiver-Infant Interactions in Humans→ | | | |
Interactions between very young babies and their parents are baby led, with the adult responding to the behaviour of the baby.
The word reciprocal means two-way, or something that is mutual. Infant and caregiver are both active contributors in the interaction and are responding to each other.
Reciprocity is a form of interaction between infant and caregiver involving mutual responsiveness, with both parties being able to produce response from each other. Smiling is an example of reciprocity – when a smile occurs in the infant it triggers a smile in the caregiver, and vice versa.
Reciprocity influences the child’s physical, social and cognitive development. It becomes the basis for development of basic trust or mistrust, and shapes how the child will relate to the world, learn, and form relationships throughout life.
Interactional synchrony is form of rhythmic interaction between infant and caregiver involving mutual focus, reciprocity and mirroring of emotion or behaviour. Infants coordinate their actions with caregivers in a kind of conversation. From birth babies move in a rhythm when interacting with an adult almost as if they were taking turns. Infant and caregiver are able to anticipate how each other will behave and can elicit a particular response from the other.
For example, a caregiver who laughs in response to their infants giggling sound and tickles them, is experiencing synchronised interaction.
Interactional synchrony is most likely to develop if the caregiver attends fully to the baby's state, provides playful stimulation when the infant is alert and attentive, and avoids pushing things when an overexcited or tired infant is fussy and sending the message 'Cool it. I just need a break from all this excitement'.
Heimann showed that infants who demonstrate a lot of imitation from birth onwards have been found to have a better quality of relationship at 3 months. However, it isn’t clear whether the imitation is a cause or an effect of this early synchrony.
Many studies involving observation of interactions between mothers and infants have shown the same patterns of interaction. However, what is being observed is merely hand movements or changes in expression. It is extremely difficult to be certain, based on these onservations, what is taking place from the infant’s perspective. Is, for example, the infants imitation of adult signals conscious and deliberate?
This means that we cannot really know for certain that behaviours seen in mother-infant interaction have a special meaning.
Observations of mother-infant interactions are generally well-controlled procedures, with both mother and infant being filmed, often from multiple angles. This ensures that very fine details of behaviour can be recorded and later analysed. Furthermore, babies don’t know or care that they are being observed so their behaviour does not change in response to controlled observation which is generally a problem for observational research. This is a strength of this line of research because it means the research has good validity.