Background: Infants have been shown to possess remarkable competencies in social understanding. Little is known, however, about the interplay between the quality of infants' social-emotional experiences with their caregivers and social-cognitive processes in infancy. Method: Using eye-tracking we investigated the relation of infant attachment quality and maternal sensitivity with 12-month-old infants' monitoring patterns during the observation of abstractly depicted interactions of a "parent" and a "baby" figure. Results: We found that secure infants focused their attention on the "parent" figure relative to the "baby" figure more than insecure infants when the two figures got separated. Infants with more sensitive mothers focused their attention more on the ongoing behavior of the "parent" figure after the separation than infants with less sensitive mothers when distress of the "baby" figure was implied by accompanying baby crying sounds. Conclusion: Our findings support the notion that early social-emotional experiences with the caregiver are related to social information processing and that these social information processing patterns might be markers of infants' developing internal working models of attachment.
- Maternal sensitivity
- Social cognition