Tag Archives: developmental psychology

When Actions Don’t Speak Louder Than Words

A new study from researchers at Northwestern University helps to better understand the powerful impact words have on infants.

While babies were watching the researchers intently, an experimenter used her forehead to turn on a light. She then allowed the infants to play with the light themselves to see if they would imitate this novel action. In a second group, the experimenter announced what she was doing, naming the activity with a nonsense word (“I’m going to blick the light”), before using her forehead to turn on the light. In this group, the infants were more likely to imitate the behavior. Researchers believe that the subjects in the study were more likely to see the behavior as an intentional event when it was paired with language, and thus, imitate it.

This points to the idea that infants as young as 14 months of age coordinate what they know about human behavior with their knowledge of language when they choose which actions to imitate. Infants’ observation skills, when paired with language, heighten their ability for understanding of intentions and actions. Without language to convey meaning, infants do not imitate these “strange” actions, allowing language to unlock a bigger world of social actions.

To read more about this study, see Developmental Psychology.

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Ira L. Cohen Presenting in Norway

PAR author Ira L. Cohen, PhD, will be presenting at the 15th European Conference on Developmental Psychology in Bergen, Norway. The conference is being held from August 23-27, 2011.

Dr. Cohen’s will be presenting a poster titled, “Arousal-Modulated Fixation on Flashing Light Patterns in At-Risk Four-Month-Old Infants is Associated with Autism Severity Scores in Childhood.”

Dr. Cohen is the author of the PDD Behavior Inventory™ (PDDBI™) and the PDD Behavior Inventory™−Screening Version (PDDBI™-SV).

For more information about the 15th European Conference on Developmental Psychology, click here.

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Ira L. Cohen Presenting at APS Annual Convention

PAR author Ira L. Cohen, PhD, will be presenting during the Association for Psychological Science (APS) Annual Convention in Washington, DC taking place from May 26 through May 29, 2011.

Dr. Cohen’s poster presentation, “Arousal-Modulated Fixation on Flashing Light Patterns in At-Risk Four-Month-Old Infants is Associated with Autism Severity Scores in Childhood,” is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 26, 2011, from 8 to 9 p.m. in Columbia Hall at the Washington Hilton.

Dr. Cohen is the author of the PDD Behavior Inventory™ (PDDBI™) and the PDD Behavior Inventory™−Screening Version (PDDBI™-SV).

For more information about the APS Annual Convention, click here.

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Meet the Author: Thomas M. Brunner, PhD

Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
This was the best way I could think of to participate in the evolution of our world. I was fascinated by the complex task of identifying patterns to thoughts, feelings, and behavior that could help us predict a person’s behavior. I could not find any field more complex, and all other fields seemed boring compared to this intellectual frontier.

What made you decide initially to develop the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2™ Child and Adolescent (STAXI-2™ C/A)?
The amazing paucity of anger measures currently existing, especially for children and adolescents. I knew the state-trait theory already had been overwhelmingly accepted by the field of psychological assessment. As a developmental psychologist in training, I approached Charlie Spielberger and suggested we develop a measure for children. He and I knew there was such a need since parents, teachers, and mental health professionals were all very concerned about the high prevalence of anger, but researchers seemed to have been giving most of their attention to anxiety, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, etc., classical conditions. Meanwhile, the public health problem of anger “snuck up” on our world. We see this with the school shootings that have occurred that now have everyone’s attention.

What would you like to tell people about your product that they may not know?
This is a measure that can truly help get at the nuances of anger. As a practicing developmental psychologist who works everyday in the trenches with parents, pediatricians, teachers, etc., I have a keen sense of whether a measure is worth our time and energy as a practitioner who is very busy. The STAXI-2 C/A passes this test admirably. Why? Most people do not want to know if there is anger or not, rather, they want to know if the child is possibly harboring anger, how much they are struggling to control their anger, and to what degree might they be controlling anger much more than any adult appreciates. They also want to know if the anger is more just a temporary state or more like a trait, and thus, more concerning.

These are the most compelling question for our field, and for the adults working with children. And it is these questions that the STAXI-2 C/A provides answers to. Second, this is a necessary measure any time one is conducting a risk assessment, as again, this measure endeavors to assess covert anger that we have learned is “silent but deadly.” This anger measure provides a robust profile of a person’s personality as it relates to anger. In this way, this measure is very practical.

What would you like to tell people about yourself that they may not know?
My experience with anger goes far beyond research and clinical settings, as I have a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, and am blessed with everyday appreciating the nuances of anger in my wonderful children. I learn from them every day. We, as parents, know there is nothing that can replace real-world experience with emotions like anger. I am also a competitive cyclist who most recently rode the Tour de Tucson, a 67 mile road race. My wife and I, with our two wonderful children, live in Tucson, Arizona, deep in the desert, my favorite place on earth.

How do you spend your free time?
Riding as fast as I can down the road, rain or shine. When not in the bike saddle, I am reading to my kids or we are outside enjoying the desert climate. I am currently learning about Transformers and He-Man from my son, and from my daughter, I am learning all about the importance of having tea parties for her dolls.

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