Development of Self-Regulatory Behavior in Infancy: Towards Understanding the Origins of Behavioral Misadventures

  • Lewis P. Lipsitt
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 161)


Self-regulatory behavior is seen at birth and before. Normal newborns adjust some of their own stimulus inputs, through maintaining or avoiding contact. These adjustments are based on pleasant and annoying experiences. Such hedonic control of the baby’s movements and behavioral receptivity enables conditioning to occur. Learned anticipations of pleasures and annoyances in turn mediate subsequent approach and avoidance behavior. Some developmental adversities entail failures by the child to avoid risks, or to deflect threats to wellbeing. This may be the result either of an initial compromise of hedonic capacities or of a failure to learn life-saving strategies. Learning deficiencies themselves can be caused by failure of pleasures and annoyances to be appropriately paired with or contingent upon other stimulus inputs. Among the behavioral misadventures possibly mediated by collaborative hedonic and learning deficits may be crib death, adolescent suicide, and a variety of accidents.


Facial Expression Crib Death Avoidance Response Stimulus Input Infant Behavior 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lewis P. Lipsitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Child Study CenterBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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