Picture of a sphere with binary code

Making Strathclyde research discoverable to the world...

The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde research outputs. It exposes Strathclyde's world leading Open Access research to many of the world's leading resource discovery tools, and from there onto the screens of researchers around the world.

Explore Strathclyde Open Access research content

The non-verbal narrative in adult-infant engagements

Delafield-Butt, Jonathan and Harder, Susanne and Væver, Mette and Trevarthen, Colwyn (2012) The non-verbal narrative in adult-infant engagements. In: BPS 2012 Developmental Section Annual Conference 2012, 2012-09-05 - 2012-09-07.

Full text not available in this repository. (Request a copy from the Strathclyde author)

Abstract

Narrative is regarded as fundamental to human meaning-making with a history of study that dates back to the ancient Greeks. Stories between adult individuals made with expressions of voice and gesture altogether produce regular narrative patterns of engagement characterised by a four-part structure that (i) opens the engagement, (ii) builds through reciprocated cycles of expression with cross-modal fluency and expressive timing before, (iii) reaching a climax of intensity, and (iv) receding to conclusion and quiescence again. This basic narrative structure, found across adult dialogue and story-telling in music, film, dance and drama, is also present in early mother-infant proto-conversational engagements. We present an analysis of the movements and vocalisations recorded from ten mother-infant pairs in face-to-face engagements, at four and seven months of age. We identify narrative events, their composition, timing, and frequency. We discuss their putative importance in generating affective attunement and effective co-regulation within the dyad, giving periods of socioemotional learning. The presence of co-created narrative structures in early infant social development suggests this pattern of engagement, with its characteristic four-part structure, is a foundational process that gives shared meaning to human minds.