The dynamic still-face effect: Do infants decrease bidding over time when parents are not responsive?

Naomi V. Ekas, John D. Haltigan, Daniel S. Messinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The still-face paradigm (SFP) was designed to assess infant expectations that parents will respond to infant communicative signals. During the still-face (SF) episode, the parent ceases interaction and maintains a neutral expression. Original, qualitative descriptions of infant behavior suggested changes within the SF episode: infants decrease bidding and disengage from their impassive parent. Research has documented changes in mean levels of infant behavior between episodes of the SFP. The hypothesis that infant behavior changes within the SF episode has not been empirically tested. In this study, hierarchical linear modeling indicated that infant gazing at the parent, smiling, and social bidding (smiling while gazing at the parent) decreased with time in the SF episode, while infant cry-face expressions increased. Changes in infant behaviors within the SF episode were associated with infant attachment and infant internalizing problems. The dynamic still-face effect quantifies infant initiation of interaction in the face of parental unresponsiveness and is a potential predictor of individual differences in development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1035
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Infancy
  • Social behavior.
  • Still-face episode
  • Still-face paradigm
  • Temporal dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Demography


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