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The Bidirectional View of Mother-Infant Interaction by Gaze and Facial Affect

Yasemin KAHYA, Sait ULUÇ, Yusuf KARA
2022 33(1): 32-43
DOI: 10.5080/u25794
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Objective: The aim of this research was to assess gaze behaviors and
facial affect expressions in mother-infant interaction within the frame of
self-contingency and interactive contingency, reflecting self-regulation
and interactive regulation, respectively. In Model 1, second-by-second
changing gaze behaviors (on partner’s face/off partner’s face) and
in Model 2, facial affect expressions (from positive to negative) were
examined. Self-contingency reflects the variability or stability in gaze
directions and facial affect expressions in each partner. Interactive
contingency reflects the degree of mother-infant gaze and facial affect
attunement or interactive regulation relative to each other.
Method: Sample was composed of 56 healthy mother-infant dyads. All
infants were 4 months old, and mean maternal age was 29.61 (SD=3.71).
Mother-infant interactions were filmed at the lab. Interactions were
coded second-by-second for mother-infant gaze behaviors and facial
affect expressions with video microanalysis method. The analysis
method was multilevel-multivariate time series analysis.
Results: According to Model 1-2, mother-infant gaze behaviors and
facial affect expressions were neither too stable nor too variable, rather,
the change in gaze behaviors and facial affect expressions in each partner
showed predictable patterns. Mothers regulated their gaze behaviors
and facial affect expressions in relation to that of their infants. Infants
regulated their facial affect expressions in relation to their mothers’ facial
affect expressions, but infant gaze interactive contingency to mother
gaze was marginally significant.
Conclusion: In interactions, infants and mothers regulate the rhythms
of their own behavior and at the same time contingently coordinate
with that of the partner. This bi-directionally regulating environment
is the foundation of infants’ relationship expectations and bio-socialbehavioral
regulation capacity, which may be related to psychopathology
in future.