Maternal Into-The-Face Behavior, Shared Attention, and Infant Distress During Face-to-Face Play at 12 Months: Bi-directional Contingencies

Robert P. Galligan, Beatrice Beebe, Dafne A. Milne, Julie Ewing, Sang Han Lee, Karen A. Buck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


We describe a new maternal intrusion behavior, moving a toy or hand "into-the-face" of the infant, and we investigate its bi-directional associations with infant-initiated shared attention, infant distress, and infant gaze, during mother-infant face-to-face play at 12 months. The play was videotaped split-screen, with infants seated in a high chair. Videotapes were coded on a 1-sec time base for mother and infant gaze (at partner, toy, both, or gaze away); infant distress; and maternal intrusion behavior, "into-the-face." We defined "infant-initiated shared attention" as mother and infant looking in the same second at a toy that the infant-initiated interest in. We documented that maternal into-the-face behavior decreased the likelihood of infant-initiated shared attention, increased the likelihood of infant distress, and decreased the likelihood of infant gazing away. Reciprocally, infant distress and gazing away increased the likelihood of mother into-the-face. In moments when the dyad was engaged in infant-initiated shared attention, mother into-the-face was less likely. This work documents bi-directional contingencies in the regulation of maternal intrusion and infant behavior during face-to-face play at 12 months. We suggest that mother into-the-face behavior disturbs an aspect of the infant's experience of recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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