We investigated whether attachment quality is related to infant–mother dyadic patterns in monitoring animated social situations. Sixty 12-month-old infants and their mothers participated in an eye-tracking study in which they watched abstractly depicted distress interactions involving the separation of a “baby” and a “parent” character followed by reunion or further separation of the two characters. We measured infants’ and their mothers’ relative fixation duration to the two characters in the animations. We found that infant attachment disorganization moderated the correspondence between the monitoring patterns of infant–mother dyads during the final part of the animations resulting in reunion or separation. Organized infants and their mothers showed complementary monitoring patterns: the more the mothers focused their attention on the “baby” character, the more the infants focused their attention on the “parent” character, and vice versa. Disorganized infant–mother dyads showed the opposite pattern although the correlation was nonsignificant: mothers and their infants focused on the same character. The attachment-related differences in the nature of the synchrony in the attentional processes of infants and their mothers suggest that by 12 months the dyads’ representations of social situations reflect their shared social–emotional experiences.
- attentional processes
- infant attachment disorganization
- internal working model