Infant looking patterns during interaction offer an early window into social and nonsocial engagement. Recent evidence indicates that infant looks exhibit temporal dependency—one look duration predicts the next look duration. It is unknown, however, whether temporal dependency emerges as infants structure their own looking or whether it is influenced by interaction. We examined whether a perturbation of social interaction affected temporal dependency. Using the Face-to-Face/Still-Face procedure, we compared temporal dependency during parental interaction (the Face-to-Face & Reunion episodes) to parental non-responsiveness (the Still-Face episode). Overall, the durations of successive infant looks were predictable; past behavior constrained current behavior. The duration of one look at the parent (Face Look) predicted the duration of the next Face Look. Likewise, the duration of a look at any place that was not the parent’s face (Away Look) predicted the duration of the next Away Look. The temporal dependency of Face Looks (social engagement) was unaffected by the Still-Face perturbation, but the temporal dependency of Away Looks (nonsocial engagement) declined during the Still-Face. Infant temporal structuring of engagement during social looking is not dependent on parental interaction while the disruption of interaction affects infants’ structuring of their own non-social engagement.
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