Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Update: About Anna by Anna
Thanks for the post Dad, although I'm not sure why you said I "declined to show us a picture" since you never asked. :) In any case, this is a picture of me and my boyfriend Chris at a party at a friend's house in January.
Here's the info on our study that's being presented at the SRCD meeting:
People often modify their speech when speaking to infants (using higher and more varied pitches than normal speech, this is sometimes referred to as "motherese." Our professor (Rebecca Brand) has done work looking into a similar phenomenon with regards to how people modify their actions to infants, termed "motionese."
Our study was designed to learn more about how mothers might modify their demonstrations of objects depending on the child's age and the type of object being demonstrated.
In our study we analyzed videos of mothers showing several different toys to their infants (6-8mo and 11-13mo). Moms demonstrated several different functions of each object in whatever way they wanted to for as long as they wanted to. Three of the objects had a clear goal (like pushing buttons and sliding buttons to open a lockbox and get a key) and three of the objects did not have clear goals (like a collection of little magnetic pieces that fit together in a ball-like shape).
We found that for the objects without goals, the moms were more likely to repeat a single action over and over again. Whereas for objects with goals, moms were more likely to demonstrate actions in a sequence. This is likely to be useful in helping babies develop their understanding of sequences as well as cause and effect. Moms of 11-13mo babies also spent more time demonstrating objects with a goal than moms of younger babies, possibly indicating that moms are sensitive to the attentional capabilities of their children.
I worked on this project throughout the school year last year with the other student authors, and over the summer with the 2nd and 3rd authors. I was the student who was mainly responsible for putting together our submission to SRCD, so I got to be first author.
I'm really excited to go to the conference and meet all the big-shots in developmental psychology!
In the mean time I'm plugging away at my current research for my thesis. I'm studying social cognition in dogs, along with one other psych senior. We're conducting separate studies, but since we're both using dogs, we run our participants together. You can try to check out our website here: Reed College K9 Research Team but some people have had trouble viewing it (I think Firefox works best).
What I'm studying specifically is whether or not dogs have the ability to tell what is new and old in the experience of others. From my bio on our website: "This ability to separate what oneself has seen from what another person has seen is an important developmental milestone in toddlers and is part of a set of social cognitive abilities that psychologists call "theory of mind". The ability to understand what is new and old for another person has not been successfully demonstrated in chimpanzees, but previous research in canine social cognition suggests that dogs may have this rather advanced ability!"
Phew! I hope that was enough of an update! I guess if anyone is interested I can post about some of the...adventures...we've experienced while conducting our study with dogs.
Posted by Anna McGee at 1:06 AM