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Embodied inter subjective engagement in mother-infant tactile communication: a cross-cultural study of Japanese and Scottish mother-infant behaviors during infant pick-up

Negayama, Koichi; Delafield-Butt, Jonathan T.; Momose, Keiko; Ishijima, Konomi; Kawahara, Noriko; Lux, Erin J.; Murphy, Andrew; Kaliarntas, Konstantinos


Koichi Negayama

Jonathan T. Delafield-Butt

Keiko Momose

Konomi Ishijima

Noriko Kawahara

Erin J. Lux

Andrew Murphy


This study examines the early development of cultural differences in a simple, embodied, and intersubjective engagement between mothers putting down, picking up, and carrying their infants between Japan and Scotland. Eleven Japanese and ten Scottish mothers with their 6- and then 9-month-old infants participated. Video and motion analyses were employed to measure motor patterns of the mothers' approach to their infants, as well as their infants' collaborative responses during put-down, pick-up, and carry phases. Japanese and Scottish mothers approached their infants with different styles and their infants responded differently to the short duration of separation during the trial. A greeting-like behavior of the arms and hands was prevalent in the Scottish mothers' approach, but not in the Japanese mothers' approach. Japanese mothers typically kneeled before making the final reach to pick-up their children, giving a closer, apparently gentler final approach of the torso than Scottish mothers, who bent at the waist with larger movements of the torso. Measures of the gap closure between the mothers' hands to their infants' heads revealed variably longer duration and distance gap closures with greater velocity by the Scottish mothers than by the Japanese mothers. Further, the sequence of Japanese mothers' body actions on approach, contact, pick-up, and hold was more coordinated at 6 months than at 9 months. Scottish mothers were generally more variable on approach. Measures of infant participation and expressivity indicate more active participation in the negotiation during the separation and pick-up phases by Scottish infants. Thus, this paper demonstrates a culturally different onset of development of joint attention in pick-up. These differences reflect cultures of everyday interaction.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 13, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 27, 2015
Publication Date Feb 27, 2015
Deposit Date Jun 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 20, 2018
Journal Frontiers in Psychology
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Article Number 66
Keywords Embodied intersubjectivity, cultural learning, development, Japan and Scotland, mother–infant relations, motor control, anticipation, peri-personal space,
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Copyright Statement
©2015 Negayama, Delafield-Butt, Momose, Ishijima, Kawahara, Lux,
Murphy and Kaliarntas.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CCBY).The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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