Sex Roles

, Volume 50, Issue 1–2, pp 1–14 | Cite as

Here's Looking at You, Kid! A Longitudinal Study of Perceived Gender Differences in Mutual Gaze Behavior in Young Infants

Article

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the origins of gender differences in mutual gaze between infants and unfamiliar adults, using a prospective longitudinal design. Infant gaze behavior was measured twice: 13–112-hr and 13–18-weeks postpartum. Gender differences were found at Visit 2 due to an increase in girls' gaze behavior. Girls also made more eye contact in female–female dyads and in the second interaction over the first. Boys' behavior remained unchanged over time. The data provide evidence for gender differences in mutual gaze in a younger sample and wider context than previously demonstrated. Results are discussed in the context of social learning (i.e., Martin & Fabes, 2001, theory of “singular polarization”) and psychobiological theories of gender development.

gender differences infant development eye contact gender development 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

references

  1. American Psychological Association (APA). (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. Arco, C. M. B., Self, P. A., & Gutrecht, N. (1979). The effect of increased maternal visual regard on neonatal visual behavior. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 8, 117-120.Google Scholar
  3. Argyle, M., & Ingham, R. (1972). Gaze, mutual gaze, and proximity. Semiotica, 1 32-49.Google Scholar
  4. Ashear, V, & Snortum, J. R. (1971). Eye contact in children as a function of age, sex, social and intellective variables. Developmental Psychology, 4, 479.Google Scholar
  5. Benenson, J. F. (1993). Gender differences in social networks. Journal of Early Adolescence, 10, 472-495.Google Scholar
  6. Berenbaum, S. A., & Hines, M (1992). Early androgens are related to childhood sex-typed toy preferences. Psychological Science, 3, 203-206.Google Scholar
  7. Berenbaum, S. A., & Snyder, E (1995). Early hormonal influences on childhood sex-typed activity and playmate preferences: Implications for the development of sexual orientation. Developmental Psychology, 31, 31-42.Google Scholar
  8. Blass, E. M., & Camp, C. A. (2001). The ontogeny of face recognition: Eye contact and sweet taste induce face preference in 9-and 12-week old human infants. Developmental Psychology, 37, 762-774.Google Scholar
  9. Bowlby, J (1958). The nature of the child's tie to his mother. Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39, 350-373.Google Scholar
  10. Brooks, C. I., Church, M. A., & Fraser, L (1986). Effects of duration of eye contact on judgments of personality characteristics. Journal of Social Psychology, 126, 71-78.Google Scholar
  11. Cherry, A. L. (1992). The socialization instinct: Individual, family, and social bonds. Journal of Applied Social Sciences, 17, 125-131.Google Scholar
  12. Corkum, V, & Moore, C (1998). The origins of joint visual attention in infants. Developmental Psychology, 34, 28-38.Google Scholar
  13. Davis, M, & Emory, E (1995). Sex differences in neonatal stress reactivity. Child Development, 66, 14-27.Google Scholar
  14. Diamond, M, & Sigmundson, H. K. (1997). Sex reassignment at birth. Long-term review and clinical implications. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 151, 298-304.Google Scholar
  15. Dodwell, P. C., Humphrey, G. K., & Muir, D. W. (1987). Shape and pattern perception. In P. Salapatek & L. Cohen, (Eds.), Handbook of infant perception: Vol. 2. From perception to cognition (pp. 1-77). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ellsworth, C. P., Muir, D. W., & Hains, S. M. J. (1993). Social competence and person-object differentiation: An analysis of the still-face effect. Developmental Psychology, 29, 63-73.Google Scholar
  17. Exline, R (1963). Explorations in the process of person perception: Visual interaction in relation to competition, sex, and need for affiliation. Journal of Personality, 31, 1-20.Google Scholar
  18. Exline, R, Gray, D, & Schuette, D (1965). Visual behavior in a dyad as affected by interview content and sex of respondent. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 201-209.Google Scholar
  19. Fagot, B. I., Leinbach, M. D., & O'Boyle, C. (1992). Gender labeling, gender stereotyping, and parenting behaviors. Developmental Psychology, 28, 225-230.Google Scholar
  20. Fogel, A, Dedo, J. Y., & McEwen, I (1992). Effect of postural position and reaching on gaze during mother-infant face-to-face interaction. Infant Behavior and Development, 15, 231-244.Google Scholar
  21. Fogel, A, Messinger, D. S., Dickson, K. L., & Hsu, H.-C. (1999). Posture and gaze in early mother-infant communication: Synchronization of developmental trajectories. Developmental Science, 2, 325-332.Google Scholar
  22. Fraiberg, S (1974). Blind infants and their mothers: An examination of the sign system. In M. Lewis & L. A. Rosenblum (Eds.), The effect of the infant on its caregiver (pp. 251-262). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  23. Frick, J. E., & Colombo, J (1996). Individual differences in infant visual attention: Recognition of degraded visual forms by four-month-olds. Child Development, 67, 188-204Google Scholar
  24. Greenman, G. W. (1963). Visual behavior of newborn infants. In A. J. Solnit & S. A. Provence (Eds.), Modern perspectives in child development (pp. 71-79). New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gunnar, M. R., Porter, R. L., Wolf, C. M., Rigatuso, J., & Larson, M. C. (1995). Neonatal stress reactivity: Predictions to later emotional temperament. Child Development, 66, 1-13.Google Scholar
  26. Hains, S. M. J., & Muir, D. W. (1996). Infant sensitivity to adult eye direction. Child Development, 67,1940-1951.Google Scholar
  27. Haith, M. M., Bergman, T, & Moore, M. J. (1977). Eye contact and face scanning in early infancy. Science, 198, 853-855.Google Scholar
  28. Hines, M, & Kaufman, F. R. (1994). Androgen and the development of human sex-typical behavior: Rough-and-tumble play and sex of preferred playmates in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Child Development, 65, 1042-1053.Google Scholar
  29. Hittelman, J. H., & Dickes, R (1979). Sex differences in neonatal eye contact time. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 25, 171-184.Google Scholar
  30. Karraker, K. H., Vogel, D. A., & Lake, M. A. (1995). Parents' gender-stereotyped perceptions of newborns: The eye of the beholder revisited. Sex Roles, 33, 687-701.Google Scholar
  31. Klaus, M. H., & Kennell, J. H. (1976). Maternal-infant bonding. In M. H. Klaus & J. H. Kennell (Eds.), Maternal-infant bonding (pp. 1-15). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.Google Scholar
  32. Klaus, M. H., Kennell, J. H., Plumb, N, & Zuehlke, S (1970). Human maternal behavior at the first contact with her young. Pediatrics, 46, 187-192.Google Scholar
  33. Kleinke, C. L. (1986). Gaze and eye contact: A research review. Psychological Bulletin, 100, 78-100.Google Scholar
  34. Kleinke, C. L., Desautels, M. S., & Knapp, B. E. (1977). Adult gaze and affective and visual responses of preschool children. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 131, 321-322.Google Scholar
  35. Knackstedt, G, & Kleinke, C. L. (1991). Eye contact, gender, and personality judgments. Journal of Social Psychology, 131, 303-304.Google Scholar
  36. Lasky, R. E., & Klein, R. E. (1979). The reactions of five-month-old infants to eye contact of the mother and of a stranger. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 25, 163-170.Google Scholar
  37. Lavelli, M, & Fogel, A (2002). Developmental changes in mother-infant face-to-face communication: Birth to 3 months. Developmental Psychology, 38, 288-305.Google Scholar
  38. Lavelli, M, & Poli, M. D. (1998). Early mother-infant interaction during breast-and bottle-feeding. Infant Behavior and Development, 21, 667-684.Google Scholar
  39. Leeb, R. T., & Rejskind, G (1997, August). Maternal sex-typing of newborns: Development of a rating scale. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  40. Leeb, R. T., & Rejskind, F. G. (1998, April). Paternal sex-typing of newborns: Standardization of a rating scale. Poster presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies. Atlanta, GA.Google Scholar
  41. Levine, M. H., & Sutton-Smith, B (1973). Effects of age, sex, and task on visual behavior during dyadic interaction. Developmental Psychology, 9, 400-405.Google Scholar
  42. Lohaus, A, Keller, H, & Voelker, S (2001). Relationships between eye contact, maternal sensitivity, and infant crying. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 25, 542-548.Google Scholar
  43. Maccoby, E. E. (1990). Gender and relationships. A developmental account. American Psychologist, 45, 513-520.Google Scholar
  44. Martin, C. L. (1999). A developmental perspective on gender effects and gender concepts. In W. B. Swann, Jr., J. H. Langlois, & L. A. Gilbert (Eds.), Sexism and stereotypes in modern society. The gender science of Janet Taylor Spence (pp. 45-73). Washington, DC: APA.Google Scholar
  45. Martin, C. L., & Fabes, R. A. (2001). The stability and consequences of young children's same-sex peer interactions. Developmental Psychology, 37, 431-446.Google Scholar
  46. Moss, H. A., & Robson, K. S. (1968). Maternal influences in early social visual behavior. Child Development, 39, 401-408.Google Scholar
  47. Muir, D. W., Hains, S. M. J., & Symons, L. A. (1994). Baby and me: Infants need minds to read! Cahiers de Psychologie Cognitive, 13, 669-682.Google Scholar
  48. Mulac, A, Studley, L. B., Weimann, J. M., & Bradac, J. J. (1987). Male/female gaze in same-sex and mixed sex dyads. Gender-linked differences in mutual influence. Human Communication Research, 13, 323-343.Google Scholar
  49. Pascalis, O, & de Schonen, S. (1993). Recognition in 3-to 4-day old human neonates. NeuroReport, 5, 1721-1724.Google Scholar
  50. Pascalis, O, de Schonen, S, Morton, J, Deruelle, C, & Fabre-Grenet, M. (1995). Mother's face recognition by neonates: A replication and extension. Infant Behavior and Development, 18, 79-85.Google Scholar
  51. Pelàez-Nogueras, M., Gewirtz, J. L., Field, T, Cigales, M, Malphurs, J., Clasky, S., et al. (1996). Infants' preference for touch stimulation in face-to-face interactions. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 17, 199-213.Google Scholar
  52. Pilkonis, P. A. (1977). The behavioral consequences of shyness. Journal of Personality, 45, 596-611.Google Scholar
  53. Podoruzek, W, & Furrow, D (1988). Preschooler's use of eye contact while speaking: The influence of sex, age, and conversational partner. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 17, 89-98.Google Scholar
  54. Pomerleau, A, Bolduc, D, Malcuit, G, & Cossette, L (1990). Pink or blue: Environmental gender stereotypes in the first two years of life. Sex Roles, 22, 359-367.Google Scholar
  55. Post, B, & Heatherington, E. M. (1974). Sex differences in the use of proximity and eye contact in judgments of affiliation in preschool children. Developmental Psychology, 10, 881-889.Google Scholar
  56. Reid, G. M. (1994). Maternal sex-stereotyping of newborns. Psychological Reports, 75, 1443-1450.Google Scholar
  57. Rhinegold, H. L. (1963). Controlling the infant's exploratory behaviour. In B. M. Foss (Ed.), Determinants of infant behavior II (pp. 171-178). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  58. Robson, K. S. (1967). The role of eye-to-eye contact in maternal-infant attachment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 8, 13-25.Google Scholar
  59. Robson, K. S., Pedersen, F. A., & Moss, H. A. (1969). Developmental observations of diadic gazing in relation to the fear of strangers and social approach behavior. Child Development, 40, 619-627.Google Scholar
  60. Rubin, J. Z., Provenzano, F. J., & Luria, Z (1974). The eye of the beholder: Parents views on sex of newborns. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 44, 512-519.Google Scholar
  61. Ruble, D. N., & Martin, C. L. (1998). Gender development. In W. Damon (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 933-1016). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  62. Russo, N. F. (1975). Eye contact, interpersonal distance, and the equilibrium theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 497-502.Google Scholar
  63. Seavey, C. A., Katz, P. A., & Zalk, S. R. (1975). Baby X: The effect of gender labels on adult responses to infants. Sex Roles, 1, 103-109.Google Scholar
  64. Sidorowicz, L. S., & Sparks-Lunney, G. (1980). Baby X revisited. Sex Roles, 6, 67-73.Google Scholar
  65. Slater, A, Bremner, G, Johnson, S. P, Sherwood, P., Hayes, R, & Brown, E. (2000). Newborn infants' preferences for attractive faces: The role of internal and external facial features. Infancy, 1, 265-274.Google Scholar
  66. Slater, A, Von der Schulenberg, C, Brown, E, Badenoch, M, Butterworth, G., Parsons, S, et al. (1998). Newborn infants prefer attractive faces. Infant Behavior and Development, 21, 345-354.Google Scholar
  67. Slijper, F. M. E., Drop, S. L. S., Molenaar, J. C., & de Muinck Keizer-Schrama, S. M. P. F. (1998). Long-term psychological evaluation of intersex children. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 27, 125-144.Google Scholar
  68. Smith, C, & Lloyd, B (1978). Maternal behavior and perceived sex of infant: Revisited. Child Development, 49, 1263-1255.Google Scholar
  69. Statistics Canada. (1995). Average annual income for selected family types and unattached individuals: Data for 1980, 1989, 1994, 1995 \On-line]. Federal Government of Canada: Statistics Canada \Catalogue no. 13-207]. Retreived from http://www.statcan.ca/endlish/Pgdb/People/Families/ famil05.htm.Google Scholar
  70. Stern, D. N. (1974). Mother and infant at play: The dyadic interaction involving facial, vocal, and gaze behaviors. In M. Lewis & L. A. Rosenblum (Eds.), The effect of the infant on its caregiver (pp. 187-214). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  71. Tannen, D (1990). Gender differences in conversational coherence: Physical alignment and topical cohesion. In B. Dorval (Ed.), Conversational organization and its development (pp. 165-206). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  72. Thoman, E. B., Leiderman, H, & Olson, J. P. (1972). Neonate-mother interaction during breast-feeding. Developmental Psychology, 6, 110-118.Google Scholar
  73. Trowell, J (1982). Possible effects of emergency cesarean section on the mother-child relationship. Early Human Development, 7, 41-51.Google Scholar
  74. Valenza, E, Simion, F, Cassia, V. M., & Umiltà, C. (1996). Face preference at birth. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 22, 892-903.Google Scholar
  75. van Wulften Plathe, T., & Hopkins, B (1984). Development of the infant's social competence during early face-to-face interaction: A longitudinal study. In H. F. R. Prechtl (Ed.), Continuity of neural functions from prenatal to post natal life (pp. 198-219). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.Google Scholar
  76. Vlietstra, A. G., & Manske, S. H. (1981). Looks to adults, preferences for adult males and females, an interpretations of an adult's gaze by preschool children. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 27, 31-41.Google Scholar
  77. Weinberg, K. M., & Tronick, E. Z. (1996). Infant affective reactions to the resumption of maternal interaction after the still-face. Child Development, 67, 905-914.Google Scholar
  78. Weinberg, M. K., Tronick, E. Z., Cohn, J. F., & Olson, K. L. (1999). Gender differences in emotional expressivity and self-regulation during early infancy. Developmental Psychology, 35, 175-188.Google Scholar
  79. Zeifman, D, Delaney, S, & Blass, E. M. (1996). Sweet taste, looking, and calm in 2-and 4-week-old infants: The eyes have it. Developmental Psychology, 32, 1090-1099.Google Scholar
  80. Zeskind, P. S., & Marshall, T. R. (1991). Temporal organization is neonatal arousal: Systems, oscillations, and development. In M. J. Weiss & P. R. Zelazo, Newborn attention: biological constraints and the influence of experience (pp. 22-62). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  81. Zucker, K. J. (1996). Commentary on Diamond's “Prenatal predisposition and the clinical management of some pediatric conditions.” Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 22, 148-160.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAtlanta
  2. 2.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations