Infants may use contingency analysis to estimate environmental states: An evolutionary, life-history perspective
SourceChild Development Perspectives, 7, 2, (2013), pp. 115-120
Article / Letter to editor
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Child Development Perspectives
Harshness and unpredictability early in life appear to be independently associated with long-term developmental outcomes, with environmental stressors affecting parental investment (e.g., responsiveness), which then shapes child development (e.g., onset of puberty). Research has detailed mediating physiological pathways, but has not specified how children transform experiences with their parents' and others' responsiveness into cognitive estimates about environmental harshness or unpredictability. In this article, we analyze this estimation process drawing on the study of contingency analysis. We propose that harshness and unpredictability produce distinct contingency profiles, and that children use these profiles to separately estimate each dimension. We conclude with six empirical predictions.
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