Behavioral Research Blog

Adolescent Motherhood – observing mother-infant behavior

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jul 25, 2014

Teenagers have the perfect life, right? Living at mom and dad’s, eating without worrying about gaining weight, and relaxing all the way through high school. Unfortunately, not all adolescents have an easy-peasy life. Some have to study to achieve good grades and others have to deal with grownup problems on top of dealing with the emotional ups and downs of adolescence. What about teenage moms? Next to dealing with a newborn, adolescent mothers are tackling their transition to adulthood (taking more distance from parental figures) and the transition to parenthood (the nurturing of an infant and caring for his or her physical and emotional needs). This is called the double risk for mother and infant, inherent in adolescent motherhood. (Riva Crugnola et al. 2014)

Double risk – invest in a solution

Current research from Prof. Cristina Riva Crugnola, University of Milano-Bicocca tells us that adolescent mothers as well as their babies (vs. adult mother and infant interactions) spent more time in negative engagement, meaning that the mothers showed more pushy behaviors towards the infant, even hostility. The infant also showed more negative behaviors, such as protesting with expressions of anger and crying. 

Riva Crugnola and colleagues state that it is important to train skills and competence in adolescent mother-infant interaction by setting up prevention programs. Young mothers should be supported in learning how to be a mother and regulating emotions (in particular, negative ones). Also, timing is everything - the researchers explain that it is also important to start preventive intervention in the first months of life.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, infant behavior, Observation lab, parent-infant dyads, adolescent behavior

Two examples of parent-child interaction research

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jun 2, 2014

Father-infant social behavior


Fatherhood is a topic of high social relevance that attracts much public interest and therefore also the attention of scientists. The important shifts in the father’s role and involvement in childcare have generated empirical interest in the specific patterns of father-infant interactions and their unique contributions to children’s social, emotional, and cognitive growth.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, infant behavior, Observation lab, parent-infant dyads

Behavioral observations in autism research – mothers of high-risk children use more gestures

Posted by Olga Krips on Aug 6, 2013

Autism, language and gestures
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have delayed development in communication and language. This impaired development can be present even in the first year of their lives. The use of gestures, like pointing and nodding, is very important in communication. Impairments in the use of those gestures goes hand-in-hand with impairments in language development. This is seen in young children with ASD. But such deficits are also more common in infants and toddlers that have a higher risk on autism (HRA), because they have an older brother or sister that was diagnosed with ASD.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, infant behavior, coding schemes, autism research, parent-child interaction, parent-infant dyads

Early Infant behavior development of hand preference

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Apr 18, 2013

Why measure handedness
There are many reasons to study the development of hand preference in infants. For one thing, being left-handed can be an advantage in one-on-one sports such as tennis. For example, Rafael Nadal is a left-handed player and with this natural advantage, he is now a star tennis player with many successful matches to his name. The advantage being, in a population with a left-handed minority and a right-handed majority, the left-handed Rafael Nadal plays most of his matches against right-handed opponents and is therefore well-practiced at dealing with this asymmetry. A right-hander plays the majority of his matches against other right-handers. In conclusion, when confronted with left-handers, they are less practiced, thereby giving the lefty a natural advantage.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, infant behavior, Observation lab

Top 5 Consumer behavior research on the Behavioral Research Blog

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Apr 12, 2013

Observational research is becoming more and more popular in consumer science and market research. From on-site behavioral observations in supermarkets to advanced multimodal lab studies, researchers are more and more familiar with measuring and observing participant behavior. Researchers combine for example the measurement of behavioral and physiological data in order to get a more complete picture of the person’s response.

This Behavioral Research Blog post features the top 5 blog posts about consumer science, market research, and neuromarketing that were published in recent months.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, emotion recognition, on-site research, video observation, FaceReader, facial expression analysis, infant behavior, Observation lab, consumer behavior, physiology, Neuromarketing, living labs, eye tracking

Parent – child interaction – research in a lab and on-site

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jan 28, 2013

Early in life, children are not capable of filling out a complete questionnaire or talking to an interviewer. In that case, observing behavior can provide valuable information in combination with parental interviews.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, emotion recognition, infant behavior, parent-child interaction, Observation lab, human behavior research, parent-infant dyads

Three examples of autism research studies

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Nov 29, 2012

Knowledge is the key to developing a better understanding of autism.

Researchers often observe and code behavior in combination with other research methods such as questionnaires or parental interviews to be able to understand, recognize, and explain specific behaviors that are linked to autism.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, T-patterns, Theme, FaceReader, facial expression analysis, infant behavior, Educational research, classroom observation software, coding schemes, autism research, parent-child interaction, behavioral patterns, repetitive behavior

The facial action coding system in infant behavior research

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Oct 31, 2012

Non-verbal behavior is very important in analyzing interpersonal communication. Think about waiving your arms when explaining something, nodding your head, or frowning. Facial expressions are also an essential part of non-verbal communication such as when displaying like or dislike of food. You can miss a lot of information if you don’t pay attention to non-verbal cues.

In many studies, the Facial Action Coding System (Ekman and Friesen, 1978) is used to code muscle movements in the face. It is often used in combination with another research method such as an interview or conversation analysis. How does FACS work? Movements of individual muscles are coded using Action Unit codes and the intensity is indicated on an A-B-C-D-E scale. You can code for example, inner brow raise (AU1), nose wrinkle (AU 9), and upper lip raise (AU 10). It is a long training process to get it right. Nevertheless, it has become the standard to systematically and manually code facial expressions.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, facial expression analysis, infant behavior, consumer behavior

How to measure infant behavior

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Sep 12, 2012

In infancy you can observe an explosive growth. Many researchers focus on this age group. Think about studies aimed at learning more about speech behavior, maternal sensitivity, or learning behavior in infancy.

Would you like to learn more? We've recently (October 2016) updated this list with blog posts related to infant behavior research!

  • O.U.C.H. Lab - The Opportunities to Understand Childhood Hurt (O.U.C.H.) Laboratory run by Dr. Rebecca Pillai Riddell (watch her TEDx Talk) focuses on understanding how caregivers and children interact within the context of pain. Their research is performed in a variety of settings, from their own lab space on the York University Campus to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units of major Toronto hospitals. Noldus and the O.U.C.H. Lab staff worked together to create the perfect lab space. Their lab is divided into two areas with observational technology (including up-to-date audio/video equipment), physiological equipment (by MindWare, LLC), and portable observational computing systems.
Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, infant behavior, coding schemes, parent-child interaction, Observation lab, behavioral research

Infant behavior experiments

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on May 29, 2012

Learn more about the Early Social Communication Scales

When a baby is born prematurely, this baby and his or her parents often experience a rough start. You can think about eating problems, high risk of infection, or even anemia. Researchers focus on the differences between term and preterm infants in order to understand certain behavior, communication abilities, and learning skills so they learn more about the effects of a preterm birth. And researchers try to assess the effectiveness of interventions, such as the “Vermont Intervention Program for Low Birthweight Infants” (Rauh, 1979). By observing parent-infant interaction, researchers gain more insight in specific behaviors such as joint attention.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, infant behavior, coding schemes, Observation lab, methods and techniques, human behavior research

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all