ABS209 - Minding: helping infants to join us in the sharing of attitudes and meanings

1.2 Children’s development and childhood
Tuesday Aug 29   11:00 AM to 11:20 AM (20 minutes)
Infants are immersed in relationships with other people who actively ‘mind’ them – helping them to participate in the social sharing of attitudes, meanings and practices and thereby helping them to internalise a shared framework of expectations.

In this presentation, I will consider how recent research in the fields of developmental and social psychology can help us to understand how infants are helped to join in the flow of minding; noticing and sharing the goals, intentions and attitudes of other people. I will argue that Vygotsky’s understanding of perezhivanie, together with Dewey’s recognition of the influence of ‘habitudes’ and Bourdieu’s interpretation of ‘habitus’ all suggest that participation in social interactions shapes the expectations and assumptions through which future experiences will be refracted.

Research on overimitation suggests that the distinctive tendency of humans to extend imitation beyond simply what a model does, including aspects of how actions are performed, enables infants to appropriate features of a particular culture. By paying close attention to what and how infants perform in social interactions, caregivers are able to provide marked responses which help to highlight what is culturally salient in an activity. As infants become more familiar with customs and routines, they become increasingly able to read subtle differences in how these are performed by different people at different times.

I will argue that minds can be seen as individual ways of refracting, interpreting or performing which can only be understood in the context of a social flow of minding.
Plymouth University