Infant, control thyself: Infants' integration of multiple social cues to regulate their imitative behavior
This study investigated 15-month-old infants’ (N = 150) ability toself-regulate based on observing a social interaction between twoadults. Infants were bystanders to a social exchange in whichan Experimenter performed actions on objects and an Emoterexpressed anger, as if they were forbidden acts. Next, the Emoterbecame neutral and her visual access to the infant was experimen-tally manipulated. The Emoter either: (a) left the room, (b) turnedher back, (c) faced the infant but looked down at a magazine, or (d)faced and looked toward the infant. Infants were then presentedwith the test objects. When the previously angry Emoter was fac-ing them, infants were hesitant to imitate the demonstrated actsin comparison to the other conditions. We hypothesize that infantsintegrated the emotional and visual-perceptual cues to determinewhether the Emoter would get angry at them, and then regulatedtheir behavior accordingly. Temperament was related to infants’self-regulation – infants with higher impulsivity scores were morelikely to perform the forbidden acts. Taken together, these findingsprovide insight into the roots of executive functions in late infancy.