Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #210
CE Offered: BACB
Infant Behavior and Infant Caregiving: Addressing Bold Claims and Common Recommendations
Sunday, May 28, 2017
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Capitol Ballroom 1-3
Area: DEV; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kathryn Glodowski (University of Nebraska's Medical Center - Munroe M)
CE Instructor: Kathryn Glodowski, Ph.D.
Abstract: Some professionals make claims or recommendations regarding infant behavior and infant caregiving that may not be supported by empirical evidence. Nighbor, Kohn, Normand, and Schlinger addressed Hamline and Wynn’s (2011) claim that infants are born with an innate ability to judge moral behavior. Nighbor and colleagues replicated and extended the procedures of Hamline and Wynn; they found that infants’ selection of the helpful puppet may depend on aspects of the methods used. Glodowski, Thompson, and Martel demonstrated the rooting reflex is sensitive to motivating operations, which supports the recommendation to feed the infant when the rooting reflex occurs. Finally, Mendres-Smith and colleagues found that expectant and new parents’ knowledge of infant positioning increased after watching an educational video. Mendres-Smith and colleagues also evaluated different procedures to improve infant tummy time; they found that improvements occurred when the parent held the infant on an incline, provided toys, and interacted with the baby, which is contrary to the current recommendation of providing toys only. Overall, these studies further our understanding of infant behavior and infant caregiving.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): infant behavior, infant caregiving, rooting reflex, tummy time

Do Infants Make Moral Judgments? Investigating Other Probable Explanations

Tyler Nighbor (West Virginia University), CAROLYNN S. KOHN (University of the Pacific), Matthew P. Normand (University of the Pacific), Henry D. Schlinger (California State University, LA)

In a now well-publicized study, Hamlin and Wynn (2011) concluded infants are born with an innate, not learned, tendency to judge the prosocial (moral) behavior of others. They based this conclusion on their study in which after watching a puppet show, 72% of infants chose the puppet that helped rather than the puppet that hindered a third puppet from attaining its goal. In the current investigation, we replicated their methods and extend their work by including a within-subject measure of infant puppet choice across repeated trials to assess the stability of infants’ choice. Twenty infants viewed a puppet show nearly identical to that described by Hamlin and Wynn (2011) and chose between two puppets (i.e., helper or hinderer) immediately following the puppet show. Although results were a similar to those of Hamlin and Wynn (2011) on the first choice trial (65% of infants chose the helper puppet on the first trial), infants did not consistently choose the helper across trials; several infants demonstrated a side bias, with 10 infants choosing puppets presented on the right or left side on at least four of five trials. Results are discussed in the context of the current replication crisis in psychology.

The Rooting Reflex as an Infant Feeding Cue
KATHRYN GLODOWSKI (University of Nebraska's Medical Center - Munroe Meyer Institute), Rachel H. Thompson (Western New England University), Lauren Marie Martel (Western New England University)
Abstract: Parents may have a difficult time determining the specific type of care needed when their baby cries because crying can be an indicator of discomfort, exhaustion, or hunger (Barr, Hopkins, & Green, 2000). Many professionals consider the rooting reflex to be a cue of a baby’s hunger and recommend feeding the infant when this reflex occurs (Nugent et al., 2014). However, there is no empirical support for this recommendation. In the current project, seven new parents documented the occurrence of their newborns’ rooting and palmar grasp reflex before, after, and between naturally occurring feedings. Rooting occurred during a greater percentage of reflex checks prior to feedings compared to after feedings, and between feedings, for all participants. The palmar grasp reflex occurred during a high percentage of checks across all conditions. These results provide evidence of the rooting reflex as a feeding cue and support for the recommendation to feed the baby when this reflex occurs. In addition, these results provide evidence that the rooting reflex may be an example of respondent behavior that is also sensitive to operant contingencies (Skinner, 1984).

Educating Caregivers About Infant Positioning and Improving Infant Intolerance of Tummy Time

AMBER E. MENDRES-SMITH (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), John C. Borrero (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Mariana I. Castillo (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Barbara J. Davis (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Jessica Becraft (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Shuyan Sun (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Brenda Hussey-Gardner (University of Maryland, School of Medicine)

Each year in the United States, approximately 3,500 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly, and many of these deaths are due to unsafe sleep positioning or environments (Centers for Disease Control, 2016). To promote safe sleeping and infant development, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that caregivers put infants to sleep on their backs at night and on their stomachs during the day when awake, known as tummy time. In Study 1, we evaluated the effectiveness of a new, educational video on 120 current and expectant parents knowledge of the AAPs positioning recommendations. The video was associated with a significant improvement in participants knowledge from pre- to post-test. In Study 2, we evaluated the effectiveness of toys and adult interaction on infants head elevation and negative vocalizations during tummy time. To date, four infants have participated and for three of the four participants, parent interaction with a toy, while held on incline was effective in increasing head elevation and/or decreasing negative vocalizations. The studies suggest that continued caregiver education of positioning recommendations is warranted and that commonly recommended interventions (i.e., toys alone) for tummy time might not be sufficient to produce meaningful change in head elevation or negative vocalizations.




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