Infants' preference for touch stimulation in face-to-face interactions

Martha Peláez-Nogueras, Jacob L. Gewirtz, Tiffany Field, Maricel Cigales, Julie Malphurs, Sara Clasky, Aida Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Infant preference for social stimulation that included touch during a face-to-face situation with an adult was investigated. Ten 1.5- to 3.5-month-old infants (M = 2.6, SD = .6) participated in a within-subjects repeated-measures design. Two treatment conditions were compared in an alternated, counterbalanced order with each infant. Under the touch treatment, the infant eye-contact responses were followed by continuous contingent adult smiling, cooing, and rubbing of the legs and feet. Under the no-touch treatment, the infant eye-contact responses were followed by contingent adult smiling and cooing, but not by touching. The results showed that, during the touch condition, infants emitted more eye contact and more smiles and vocalizations, and they spent less time crying and protesting compared with the no-touch condition. The results demonstrated that a social stimulus compound that included touching the infants functioned as a more effective reinforcer for infant eye-contact behavior than a stimulus compound that did not include touch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-213
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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