Temperament moderates responsiveness to joint attention in 11-month-old infants

Infant Behav Dev. 2010 Jun;33(3):297-308. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2010.03.007.


The present study investigates the relationship between individual differences in children's temperament and their responsiveness to joint attention. Twenty-five 11-month-old children (12 girls and 13 boys) were presented with a gaze-following task in a laboratory setting, and parent reports of temperament were collected. Findings indicate that children's ability to correctly follow an experimenter's gaze differed as a function of individual temperament predispositions. Children high in perceptual sensitivity and negative affect engaged in relatively less frequent gaze-following, consistent with reports from previous research. However analysis of the dimension of orienting/effortful control produced an unexpected finding; that children low in effortful control were relatively more likely to respond to joint attentional bids. Overall, these findings are consistent with a view of temperament as a moderator of children's engagement in joint attention, and raise the possibility that joint attention may be a mechanism underlying previous reports of temperament-language relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety
  • Attention*
  • Eye Movements*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Head Movements
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / psychology*
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Personality Tests
  • Psychological Tests
  • Social Behavior*
  • Temperament*