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Developmental Psychology - Vol 53, Iss 10

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Developmental Psychology Developmental Psychology publishes articles that advance knowledge and theory about human development across the life span.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Latent profile and cluster analysis of infant temperament: Comparisons across person-centered approaches.
    There is renewed interest in person-centered approaches to understanding the structure of temperament. However, questions concerning temperament types are not frequently framed in a developmental context, especially during infancy. In addition, the most common person-centered techniques, cluster analysis (CA) and latent profile analysis (LPA), have not been compared with respect to derived temperament types. To address these gaps, we set out to identify temperament types for younger and older infants, comparing LPA and CA techniques. Multiple data sets (N = 1,356; 672 girls, 677 boys) with maternal ratings of infant temperament obtained using the Infant Behavior Questionnaire–Revised (Gartstein & Rothbart, 2003) were combined. All infants were between 3 and 12 months of age (M = 7.85; SD = 3.00). Due to rapid development in the first year of life, LPA and CA were performed separately for younger (n = 731; 3 to 8 months of age) and older (n = 625; 9 to 12 months of age) infants. Results supported 3-profile/cluster solutions as optimal for younger infants, and 5-profile/cluster solutions for the older subsample, indicating considerable differences between early/mid and late infancy. LPA and CA solutions produced relatively comparable types for younger and older infants. Results are discussed in the context of developmental changes unique to the end of the first year of life, which likely account for the present findings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Developmental changes in infants’ categorization of anger and disgust facial expressions.
    For decades, scholars have examined how children first recognize emotional facial expressions. This research has found that infants younger than 10 months can discriminate negative, within-valence facial expressions in looking time tasks, and children older than 24 months struggle to categorize these expressions in labeling and free-sort tasks. Specifically, these older children, and even adults, consistently misidentify disgust expressions as anger. Although some scholars have hypothesized that young infants would also be unable to categorize anger and disgust expressions, this question has not been empirically tested. In addition, very little research has examined developmental changes in infants’ perceptual categorization abilities with high arousal, within-valence emotions. For this reason, the current study tested 10- and 18-month-olds in a looking time task and found that both age groups could perceptually categorize anger and disgust facial expressions. Furthermore, 18-month-olds showed a heightened sensitivity to novel anger expressions, suggesting that, over the second year of life, infants’ emotion categorization skills undergo developmental change. These findings are the first to demonstrate that young infants can categorize anger and disgust facial expressions and to document how this skill develops and changes over time. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Event-related potentials discriminate familiar and unusual goal outcomes in 5-month-olds and adults.
    Previous event-related potential (ERP) work has indicated that the neural processing of action sequences develops with age. Although adults and 9-month-olds use a semantic processing system, perceiving actions activates attentional processes in 7-month-olds. However, presenting a sequence of action context, action execution and action conclusion could challenge infants’ developing working memory capacities. A shortened stimulus presentation of a highly familiar action, presenting only the action conclusion of an eating action, may therefore enable semantic processing in even younger infants. The present study examined neural correlates of the processing of expected and unexpected action conclusions in adults and infants at 5 months of age. We analyzed ERP components reflecting semantic processing (N400), attentional processes (negative central in infants; P1, N2 in adults) and the infant positive slow wave (PSW), a marker of familiarity. In infants, the PSW was enhanced on left frontal channels in response to unexpected as compared to the expected outcomes. We did not find differences between conditions in ERP waves reflecting semantic processing or overt attentional mechanisms. In adults, in addition to differences in attentional processes on the P1 and the N2, an N400 occurred only in response to the unexpected action outcome, suggesting semantic processing taking place even without a complete action sequence being present. Results indicate that infants are already sensitive to differences in action outcomes, although the underlying mechanism which is based on familiarity is relatively rudimentary when contrasted with adults. This finding points toward different cognitive mechanisms being involved in action processing during development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Influence of father–infant relationship on infant development: A father-involvement intervention in Vietnam.
    We examined the extent to which fathers can be taught and encouraged to develop positive relationships with their children, especially in infancy, and the effects of this fathering intervention on infant development. A multifaceted relationally focused intervention was used to assist fathers in Vietnam to engage in responsive direct and indirect involvement with their infants and work together with the mother as part of a parenting team. Fathers and mothers from 13 communes in a rural and semiurban district were recruited to the intervention group. Intervention fathers received group and individual counseling before and after birth, an interactive print resource, community messages about fathering, and the opportunity to participate in a Fathers Club. Couples from 12 comparable communes in a noncontiguous district were recruited to the control group. Fathers and mothers completed questionnaires at the prebirth recruitment and at 1-, 4-, and 9-months postbirth. Intervention fathers demonstrated greater increase in knowledge and attitudes regarding father–infant relationships. Both fathers and mothers reported that fathers engaged in more affection, care-taking, and play in the early months of their infants’ lives and fathers felt more attached to their infants right from birth. A developmental assessment at 9 months showed that intervention infants demonstrated higher levels of motor, language, and personal/social development. This study demonstrated that fathers can be taught to interact more sensitively, responsively, and effectively with their newborn infants. Their increased interaction and emotional attachment appears to lay the foundation for enhanced infant development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Development of restricted and repetitive behaviors from 15 to 77 months: Stability of two distinct subtypes?
    A community sample of 192 parents reported on their children’s restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRBs) at mean ages 15 months (N = 138), 26 months (N = 191), and 77 months (N = 125) using the Repetitive Behavior Questionnaire-2 (RBQ-2). Consistent with previous factor analytic research, 2 factors were found at each age: 1 comprising repetitive sensory and motor behaviors (RSM), and the other comprising insistence on sameness behaviors including rigidity, routines, and restricted interests (IS). Regression analyses indicated that RSM and IS subtypes develop independently. RSM at 77 months was predicted only by RSM behaviors at 26 months and not by IS behaviors at either 15 or 26 months nor by RSM behaviors at 15 months. IS at 77 months was predicted by IS behaviors at both 15 and 26 months, but not by RSM behaviors at either 15 or 26 months. Our findings provide evidence that there is stability of 2 independent subtypes of RRBs, RSM and IS, across early childhood and that these subtypes develop independently of each other. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Shape up: An eye-tracking study of preschoolers’ shape name processing and spatial development.
    Learning the names of geometric shapes is at the intersection of early spatial, mathematical, and language skills, all important for school-readiness and predictors of later abilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We investigated whether socioeconomic status (SES) influenced children’s processing of shape names and whether differences in processing were predictive of later spatial skills. Three-year-olds (N = 79) with mothers of varying education levels participated in an eye-tracking task that required them to look at named shapes. Lower SES children took longer to fixate target shapes and spent less time looking at them than higher SES children. Gaze variables measured at age 3 were predictive of spatial skills measured at age 5 even though the spatial measures did not require shape-related vocabulary. Early efficiency in the processing of shape names may contribute to the development of a foundation for spatial learning in the preschool years. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Moral development in context: Associations of neighborhood and maternal discipline with preschoolers’ moral judgments.
    Associations among moral judgments, neighborhood risk, and maternal discipline were examined in 118 socioeconomically diverse preschoolers (Mage = 41.84 months, SD = 1.42). Children rated the severity and punishment deserved for 6 prototypical moral transgressions entailing physical and psychological harm and unfairness. They also evaluated 3 criteria for assessing maturity in moral judgments: whether acts were considered wrong regardless of rules and wrong independent of authority, as well as whether moral rules were considered unacceptable to alter (collectively called criterion judgments). Mothers reported on their socioeconomic status, neighborhood characteristics and risk, and consistency of discipline; harsh maternal discipline was observed during a mother–child clean-up task. Structural equation modeling indicated that greater neighborhood risk was associated with less mature criterion judgments and ratings that transgressions were less serious and less deserving of punishment, particularly for children who were disciplined less harshly. Although harsh maternal discipline was associated with children’s ratings of moral transgressions as more serious and deserving of punishment, this effect for severity judgments was more pronounced when mothers were inconsistent versus consistent in applying harsh discipline. Preschoolers who received consistent harsh discipline had less sophisticated moral criterion judgments than their less consistently or harshly disciplined peers. Results demonstrate the importance of social contexts in preschoolers’ developing moral judgments. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The development of intention-based morality: The influence of intention salience and recency, negligence, and outcome on children’s and adults’ judgments.
    Two experiments were conducted to investigate the influences on 4-8 year-olds’ and adults’ moral judgments. In both, participants were told stories from previous studies that had indicated that children’s judgments are largely outcome-based. Building on recent research in which one change to these studies’ methods resulted in substantially more intention-based judgment, in Experiment 1 (N = 75) the salience and recency of intention information were increased, and in Experiment 2 (N = 99) carefulness information (i.e., the absence of negligence) was also added. In both experiments even the youngest children’s judgments were primarily intention-based, and in Experiment 2 punishment judgments were similar to adults’ from 5–6 years. Comparisons of data across studies and experiments indicated that both changes increased the proportion of intention-based punishment judgments—but not acceptability judgments—across age-groups. These findings challenge and help to explain those of much previous research, according to which children’s judgments are primarily outcome-based. However, younger participants continued to judge according to outcome more than older participants. This might indicate that young children are more influenced by outcomes than are adults, but other possible explanations are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The differential influences of parenting and child narrative coherence on the development of emotion recognition.
    The ability to recognize and label emotions serves as a building block by which children make sense of the world and learn how to interact with social partners. However, the timing and salience of influences on emotion recognition development are not fully understood. Path analyses evaluated the contributions of parenting and child narrative coherence to the development of emotion recognition across ages 4 through 8 in a diverse (50% female; 46% Hispanic, 18.4% Black, 11.2% White, .4% Asian, 24.0% multiracial) longitudinally followed sample of 250 caregiver–child dyads. Parenting behaviors during interactions (i.e., support, instructional quality, intrusiveness, and hostility) and children’s narrative coherence during the MacArthur Story Stem Battery were observed at ages 4 and 6. Emotion recognition increased from age 4 to 8. Parents’ supportive presence at age 4 and instructional quality at age 6 predicted increased emotion recognition at 8, beyond initial levels of emotion recognition and child cognitive ability. There were no significant effects of negative parenting (i.e., intrusiveness or hostility) at 4 or 6 on emotion recognition. Child narrative coherence at ages 4 and 6 predicted increased emotion recognition at 8. Emotion recognition at age 4 predicted increased parent instructional quality and decreased intrusiveness at 6. These findings clarify whether and when familial and child factors influence emotion recognition development. Influences on emotion recognition development emerged as differentially salient across time periods, such that there is a need to develop and implement targeted interventions to promote positive parenting skills and children’s narrative coherence at specific ages. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Number sense and mathematics: Which, when and how?
    Individual differences in number sense correlate with mathematical ability and performance, although the presence and strength of this relationship differs across studies. Inconsistencies in the literature may stem from heterogeneity of number sense and mathematical ability constructs. Sample characteristics may also play a role as changes in the relationship between number sense and mathematics may differ across development and cultural contexts. In this study, 4,984 16-year-old students were assessed on estimation ability, one aspect of number sense. Estimation was measured using 2 different tasks: number line and dot-comparison. Using cognitive and achievement data previously collected from these students at ages 7, 9, 10, 12, and 14, the study explored for which of the measures and when in development these links are observed, and how strong these links are and how much these links are moderated by other cognitive abilities. The 2 number sense measures correlated modestly with each other (r = .22), but moderately with mathematics at age 16. Both measures were also associated with earlier mathematics; but this association was uneven across development and was moderated by other cognitive abilities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Situational and structural variation in youth perceptions of maternal guilt induction.
    Parental induction of empathy-related guilt plays an important role in children’s moral development. However, guilt induction can also be psychologically controlling and detrimental for youth adjustment. This study provided a more nuanced view of parental guilt induction by examining how the nature of a child’s misdeed and the structure and content of the parental guilt inductive statement impact children’s perceptions of it. Using hypothetical vignettes, this study experimentally examined the impact of the type (domain) of child behavior, highlighted victim, and focus of parental criticism on 156 children’s and early and middle adolescents’ (age: Ms = 8.82, 12.11, and 15.84 years) perceptions of maternal guilt induction. Attributions of guilt and shame increased most for younger children, when mothers focused on indirect harm to themselves about personal issues, and when mothers criticized their child as a person (shame only). Youth evaluated guilt induction least positively for personal issues and when mothers criticized the child’s personality while focusing on indirect harm to themselves. With age, youth were less accepting of maternal guilt induction and more likely to endorse negative and parent-centered intentions, especially for personal issues. Older youth also drew less distinction between guilt induction over multifaceted and personal issues. Guilt induction over moral issues was generally perceived most positively. Additional interactions also emerged. These findings suggest that the meaning and effects of guilt induction on children’s development may depend on the way in which it is enacted. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Mind-mindedness in parents of looked-after children.
    The studies reported here aimed to test the proposal that mind-mindedness is a quality of personal relationships by assessing mind-mindedness in caregiver–child dyads in which the relationship has not spanned the child’s life or in which the relationship has been judged dysfunctional. Studies 1 and 2 investigated differences in mind-mindedness between adoptive parents (ns = 89, 36) and biological parents from the general population (ns = 54, 114). Both studies found lower mind-mindedness in adoptive compared with biological parents. The results of Study 2 showed that this group difference was independent of parental mental health and could not fully be explained in terms of children’s behavioral difficulties. Study 3 investigated differences in mind-mindedness in foster carers (n = 122), parents whose children had been the subject of a child protection plan (n = 172), and a community sample of biological parents (n = 128). The level of mind-mindedness in foster carers and parents who were involved with child protection services was identical and lower than that in the community sample; children’s behavioral difficulties could not account for the difference between the 2 groups of biological parents. In all 3 studies, nonbiological carers’ tendency to describe their children with reference to preadoption or placement experiences was negatively related to mind-mindedness. These findings are in line with mind-mindedness being a relational construct. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • A longitudinal study of families formed through reproductive donation: Parent-adolescent relationships and adolescent adjustment at age 14.
    The aim of the 6th phase of this longitudinal study was to establish whether children born through assisted reproduction involving reproductive donation were at risk for psychological problems following the transition to adolescence at age 14 and, if so, to examine the nature of these problems and the mechanisms involved. Eighty-seven families formed through reproductive donation, including 32 donor insemination families, 27 egg donation families, and 28 surrogacy families, were compared with 54 natural conception families. Standardized interviews, questionnaires, and observational assessments of the quality of parent-adolescent relationships and adolescent adjustment were administered to mothers, adolescents, and teachers. The mothers in surrogacy families showed less negative parenting and reported greater acceptance of their adolescent children and fewer problems in family relationships as a whole compared with gamete donation mothers. In addition, less positive relationships were found between mothers and adolescents in egg donation families than in donor insemination families as rated by both mothers and adolescents. There were no differences between family types for the adolescents themselves in terms of adjustment problems, psychological well-being, and self-esteem. Longitudinal analyses showed no differences between family types in negative parenting from age 7 to age 14, and a weaker association between negative parenting and adjustment difficulties for gamete donation than natural conception and surrogacy families. The findings suggest that the absence of a genetic link between mothers and their children is associated with less positive mother-adolescent relationships whereas the absence of a gestational link does not have an adverse effect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The link between perceived maternal and paternal autonomy support and adolescent well-being across three major educational transitions.
    To what extent does maternal and paternal autonomy support enhance well-being across the major transitions of high school? We tested the degree to which perceived autonomy supportive parenting facilitated positive changes in self-esteem and life satisfaction and buffered against negative changes in depressive symptoms and school related burnout in 3 Finnish longitudinal studies, each with a measurement point before and after a major transition (middle school, N1 = 760, 55.7% girls; high school, N2 = 214, 51.9% girls; post high school, N3 = 858, 47.8% girls). Results showed that perceived parental autonomy support was negatively related to depressive symptoms and positively related to self-esteem. The findings for the effects on depressive symptoms were replicated across all 3 transitions, while effects on self-esteem were only found for the high school and post high school transitions. Moreover, evidence of coregulation was found for depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms before the transition were found to decrease autonomy support after the transition for both the high school and post high school transitions. Maternal and paternal autonomy support was of equal importance. Importantly, the effects on depressive symptoms increased as children developed, suggesting the continual importance of parents throughout high school and into emerging adulthood. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The development of marital tension: Implications for divorce among married couples.
    Marriages are often characterized by their positive and negative features in terms of whether they elicit feelings of satisfaction and happiness or conflict and negativity. Although research has examined the development of marital happiness, less is known about the development of negativity among married couples. We examined how marital tension (i.e., feelings of tension, resentment, irritation) develops within couples over time and whether marital tension has unique implications for divorce. Specifically, we examined marital tension among husbands and wives within the same couples from the first to the sixteenth year of marriage, as well as links between marital tension and divorce. Participants included 355 couples assessed in years 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 16 of marriage. Multilevel models revealed that wives reported greater marital tension than husbands. Marital tension increased over time among both husbands and wives, with a greater increase among husbands. Couples were more likely to divorce when wives reported higher marital tension, a greater increase in marital tension, and greater cumulative marital tension. Findings are consistent with the emergent distress model of marriage, but indicate that despite the greater increases in marital tension among husbands, wives’ increased marital tension over the course of marriage is more consistently associated with divorce. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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