Infants' responses to mothers' imitative behaviors

Tiffany M Field, Lisa Guy, Vivian Umbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Several investigators have suggested that young infants' smiles and vocalizations following their mothers' imitative behaviors might reflect infant recognition that the mother's behavior is imitative or at least contingent. This study investigated whether infants smile and vocalize more frequently subsequent to maternal imitative than non‐imitative behavior during both spontaneous and imitative face‐to‐face interactions. Fourteen 3 1/2‐month‐old infants and their mothers were videotaped in these two face‐to‐face interaction situations. The infants vocalized more frequently during the imitative situation and infant vocalizations plus simultaneous smiling, and vocalizations occurred more often following maternal imitative than non‐imitative behavior. Although these data suggest that infant vocalizations and simultaneous smiles and vocalizations may reflect the infants' recognition of maternal imitative behavior, they do not establish definitively that it is the imitation per se vs. the contingency aspect that is recognized by the infant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-44
Number of pages5
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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