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Mother-Infant Interaction and Infant Development Among the Wolof of Senegal NICHD

Lewis, Michael; Lusk, Diane
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Early Childhood Research Council, National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), Africa, Age Differences, Bayley Scales of Infant Development., Child Development, Infant Behavior, Mothers, Parent Child Relationship, Senegal


Ten mother-infant dyads were observed in their homes for four hours each during one month in order to measure interactive aspects of their behavior. Demographic data are included for the participating families, who are members of the Wolof in Senegal, Africa. For this study, interaction was defined as a sequence of behaviors involving both caretaker and infant which fell (a) within one 10-second time column or (b) extended over two or more time columns but which the observed judged to be a continuous sequence. Six different infant behaviors (fret/cry, extreme movement, look, vocalize, smile, touch) and five adult behaviors (touch-gross, touch-fine, vocalize, smile, approach) were recorded. After collecting the observational data, the new Bayley Scales of Infant Development were given to the infants in their homes. The most important result to emerge was that the pattern of caretaker-infant interaction was related more strongly to the age of the infant than to any other variable investigated. The results of the developmental testing are in agreement with other findings that African infants show precocious development within the first year. No relationship between the interaction measures and tests of cognitive and motor skills was found. (Author/NH)

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