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Gaze direction and maternal pitch in surprise-eliciting situations

Reissland, N; Shepherd, J


J Shepherd


The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that not only do babies use emotional signals from adults in order to relate emotions to specific situations (e.g., Campos & Stenberg, 1981) but also that mothers seek out emotional information from their infants (Emde, 1992). Three groups of mothers and their infants, 3, 5 and 9 months old were video- and audio-taped, while playing in their homes with a soft toy and a remote-control Jack-in-the-box. During surprise-eliciting play with the Jack- in-the-box, maternal and infant gaze direction and their emotional expressions of surprise, pleasure, fear and neutral expressions were coded in three regions of the face. In addition, the mean fundamental frequency of maternal surprise-vocalisations was analysed. Maternal exclamations of surprise were compared with similar utterances of these mothers while playing with a soft toy as a baseline. During the surprise event, maternal and infant gaze directions as well as infant age were analysed in relation to maternal pitch. Results are discussed in terms of maternal use of the pitch of her voice to mark surprising situations, depending on the gaze-direction of the infant. (C) 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Inc.


Reissland, N., & Shepherd, J. (2002). Gaze direction and maternal pitch in surprise-eliciting situations. Infant Behavior & Development, 24(4), 408-417.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2002
Journal Infant Behavior & Development
Print ISSN 0163-6383
Publisher Elsevier
Volume 24
Issue 4
Pages 408-417