Mother–infant Interaction Quality and Infants' Ability to Encode Actions as Goal-directed

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Abstract

The current study investigated the relationship between mother–child interaction quality and infants' ability to interpret actions as goal-directed at 7 months in a sample of 37 dyads. Interaction quality was assessed in a free play interaction using two distinct methods: one assessed the overall affective quality (emotional availability), and one focused on the mother's proclivity to treat her infant as an intentional agent (mind-mindedness). Furthermore, infants' ability to interpret human actions as goal-directed was assessed. Analyses revealed that only maternal emotional availability, and not maternal mind-mindedness, was related to infants' goal-encoding ability. This link remained stable even when controlling for child temperament, working memory, and maternal education. These findings provide first evidence that emotionally available caregiving promotes social-cognitive development in preverbal infants.

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