Social expectations

Early expectations for social interaction in a Non-Western babywearing culture

In this project, we examined the extent to which the still-face effect (i.e., a reduction in positive affect and increase in distress when social contingency is disrupted), pervasive in studies with Western infants, is representative of early social expectations in an indigenous, babywearing culture in Bolivia. Caregivers in Bolivia interacted with infants for two minutes in either a face-to-face social orientation (Study 1) or a body-to-body social orientation (Study 2), then broke social contingency by ceasing responsiveness. Infants were measured on differences in positive affect, negative affect, vocalizations, and social engagement with the caregiver from the interaction phase to the still phase. In Study 1 (N = 18, Mage = 10.11) and Study 2 (N = 12, Mage = 10.52), there were no significant within-subjects differences in infant behavior between the interaction phase and the still phase (i.e., infants did not show the typical still-face effect). These studies demonstrate that models of early social expectations using the still-face paradigm in Western populations are not globally representative.

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