Are young infants sensitive to interpersonal contingency?

Philippe Rochat*, Ulric Neisser, Viorica Marian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Murray and Trevarthen (1985) provided what seemed to be strong evidence that 2-month old infants can discriminate a view of their mother interacting with them via TV either live or in a replay. This study has been widely cited as having important implications for early social development and the development of the self. Here we report two attempts to replicate it with additional controls. The first experiment, which used a larger group of infants and controlled for the order of conditions, found no hint of Murray and Trevarthen's effect. The second experiment included 2 and 4 month-old infants. In an effort to increase attention to the mother, they were presented with a "still-face" episode just before the critical live or taped segment. At both ages infants responded with reliably less gazing and smiling during the still-face, but did not respond differentially in the live and tape conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-366
Number of pages12
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998


  • Early social development
  • Interpersonal contingency
  • Social sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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