UEL Baby Dev Lab

Dialogic Book-Sharing as a Privileged Intersubjective Space

Murray, L., Rayson, H., Ferrari, P. F., Wass, S. V., & Cooper, P. J. 2022. Frontiers in Psychology

Parental reading to young children is well-established as being positively associated with child cognitive development, particularly their language development. Research indicates that a particular, “intersubjective,” form of using books with children, “Dialogic Book-sharing” (DBS), is especially beneficial to infants and pre-school aged children, particularly when using picture books. The work on DBS to date has paid little attention to the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of the approach. Here, we address the question of what processes taking place during DBS confer benefits to child development, and why these processes are beneficial. In a novel integration of evidence, ranging from non-human primate communication through iconic gestures and pointing, archaeological data on Pre-hominid and early human art, to experimental and naturalistic studies of infant attention, cognitive processing, and language, we argue that DBS entails core characteristics that make it a privileged intersubjective space for the promotion of child cognitive and language development. This analysis, together with the findings of DBS intervention studies, provides a powerful intellectual basis for the wide-scale promotion of DBS, especially in disadvantaged populations.

Infant effortful control mediates relations between nondirective parenting and internalising-related child behaviours in an autism-enriched infant cohort

Smith, C., Jones, E., Wass, S., Pasco, G., Johnson, M., Charman, & Wan, M. 2021. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Internalising problems are common within Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); early intervention to support those with emerging signs may be warranted. One promising signal lies in how individual differences in temperament are shaped by parenting. Our longitudinal study of infants with and without an older sibling with ASD investigated how parenting associates with infant behavioural inhibition (8–14 months) and later effortful control (24 months) in relation to 3-year internalising symptoms. Mediation analyses suggest nondirective parenting (8 months) was related to fewer internalising problems through an increase in effortful control. Parenting did not moderate the stable predictive relation of behavioural inhibition on later internalising. We discuss the potential for parenting to strengthen protective factors against internalising in infants from an ASD-enriched cohort.