University Paris Descartes

Parent-child interaction

At the Institute of Psychology of the University Paris Descartes in France, the general objective of the research of Emmanuel Devouche is to improve the knowledge about the exchanges of a baby with his or her social environment. He aims to identify the roots of social intelligence that will lead to the appearance of socio-cognitive skills such as joint attention.


Face to face communication

The research can be divided into two groups: 

  1. Studies of mother-baby communication during the first weeks and months. For example, a study using kangaroo “supported diagonal flexion” positioning, a multisensory care method offered to both parent and child immediately after birth. This new position ensured that parents were less preoccupied by the fear of the baby slipping, more relaxed in order to interact with their baby, and more able to make eye-contact and still have good skin-to-skin contact. All this was hypothesized to result in improved well-being of both the parent and the baby. 
  2. Studies of vulnerability factors in pregnant women (personality disorders, mood disorders, somatic disorders, and psychotropic intake) and their consequences on the quality of early exchanges with the baby and his or her socio-cognitive development. He conducted a study to ascertain whether infants as young as 3 months of age, whose mothers suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD), are already at risk of greater emotional dysregulation than infants of mothers without BPD when faced with a minor stressful experience.

The impact of parent-child interaction on the child’s development

To allow behavioral measurements, the sessions used for the studies were videotaped. The Observer XT was used to code and further analyze these video recordings. It enabled the researchers to look in great detail at the expressed vocalizations, gaze directions, time spent smiling and talking to the child, shown emotions, and more.

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