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Title:Patterns of Early Infant Socialization: A Descriptive Analysis of Mother- and Father-Infant Interaction in the Home
Author(s):Power, Thomas George
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Developmental
Abstract:The purpose of this study was to provide descriptive data on developmental changes in the nature of mother- and father-infant interaction patterns from the infant's 11th to 17th month of life. Mothers and fathers of 24 first-born infants (four boys and four girls at each of three ages--11, 14, and 17 months) were observed during naturalistic observation sessions in their homes. During these sessions, observers made a detailed record of all parent-infant interactions through the use of a coding system based on Schaffer's model of early socialization, and derived from earlier research on parent-infant play. In using this system, observers coded all parent-infant interactions as sequences of mutually exclusive parental attempts to elicit, facilitate, or control infant social, locomotor, and exploratory behavior.
Results of this analysis provided a detailed description of early socialization patterns, as well as providing some hypotheses concening the mother's and father's role in early infant exploratory and sex-role development. Overall, the majority of parent-infant interactions were characterized by the parent actively trying to elicit or influence infant fine motor and locomotor behavior. Attempts to influence vocal and affective behavior also occurred, but with lower frequency. Parent sex and infant age modified this pattern of results. While there were no developmental changes in the complexity of parental attempts to influence infant fine motor exploration, attempts to influence infant looking and affective behavior decreased with age, attempts to influence infant vocal behavior were the most common at 14 months, and verbal attempts to influence infant locomotor behavior were most common at 14 and 17 months. Fathers were more likely than mothers to use physical means in influencing infant behavior, while mothers were more likely to restrict their infant's exploration, to use objects in play, and to actively encourage infant vocalization.
Sex of the infant was another important determinant of parent behavior. Parents engaged in more attempts to influence their girl infant's behavior than their boy's, and were also more likely to restrict their girl's than their boy's exploration in non-threatening situations. Furthermore, fathers encouraged vocal and sharing behavior in their girls, while they encouraged the use of non-toy objects in interactions with their boys. Finally, fathers were less likely than mothers to use "sex-inappropriate" toys during play with their infant, and sex typing pressure (as measured by the use of "sex-appropriate" and the non-use of "sex-inappropriate" toys) was higher for boys than it was for girls.
Together, these data highlight a number of differences in the mother's and father's role in early socialization. For example, while there were no mother-father differences in the direct encouragement of exploratory behavior, the finding that mothers were more likely than fathers to restrict their infant's exploration suggests that mothers may play a greater role in infant exploratory development than fathers. Specifically, the mother's greatest influence is likely to occur indirectly through her greater role as manager of the infant's interactions with the physical environment. Similarly, these data highlight the father's role in early sex-role socialization, and confirm studies of older children that show that sex-role socialization begins at an earlier age for boys than for girls. A number of other developmental implications of these data are discussed.
Issue Date:1980
Description:128 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8108631
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-13
Date Deposited:1980

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