Volume 2, Issue 2

Fall 2007

The Journal of Developmental Processes

Journal of Developmental Processes
Submission Guidelines
Description The goal of the Journal of Developmental Processes is to provide a vehicle for research and clinical studies that advance knowledge of the complexity inherent in all developmental processes. The JDP encourages exchange of ideas across fields including, but not limited to, animal behavior, anthropology, biology, education, linguistics, neuroscience, occupational and speech and language therapy, primatology, psychiatry, psychology, public policy, sociology, and social work. The Journal is interested in both experimental and descriptive studies, including basic research, detailed case reports, ethnographic analysis, and theoretical explorations. Particularly welcome are innovative conceptual frameworks and methods that capture the complexity of developmental processes as well as assessment procedures and interventions that enable children and families to overcome mental health, developmental, social, and learning challenges. Submissions Send queries and submissions on clinical aspects and applications to Associate Editor Ira Glovinsky at ira1834@sbcglobal.net; all other queries and submissions, and books for potential review, should go to Editor Barbara J. King at bjking@wm.edu or Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA, 23187-8795. Please submit manuscripts electronically, preferably in Microsoft Word® format. Length is negotiable with the editor, but generally should not exceed 50 manuscript pages, including references. Submit your contact information, including phone, fax, and postal mailing address. Also enclose a cover letter indicating that the article has not been published, and is not under consideration elsewhere. Tables, figures, and photographs should be used sparingly. Please include a high gloss black-and-white copy of the image as well as an electronic file in TIFF, EPS, or JPG format. Clearly indicate where the image should appear, as well as a title and explanatory note. Line art should have a resolution of 1200 dots per inch for good print quality. References References should be listed in alphabetical order. Each listed reference should be cited in the text, and each text citation should be listed in the References. We follow the APA style, e.g., Greenspan, S. I., & Shanker, S. G. (2004). The first idea: How symbols, language, and intelligence evolved from our primate ancestors to modern humans. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo. Greenspan, S. I., & Shanker, S. G. (2005). Developmental Research. In E. S. Person, A. M. Cooper, & G. O. Gabbard, American psychiatric publishing textbook of psychoanalysis (pp. 335–360). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing. Greenspan, S. I., & Wieder, S. (1997). Developmental patterns and outcomes in infant and children with disorders in relating and communicating: A chart review of 200 cases of children with autistic spectrum diagnosis. Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders, 1, 87–141.


Volume 2, Issue 2

Fall 2007


Editorial: Literature, Music, and Developmental Science—Barbara J. King JDP Forum Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas— Jaime B. Tanner, Laura Smale, and Kay E. Holekamp Why Does Carnivore Play Matter?—Camille Ward and Barbara B. Smuts Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation: Evidence of Complex Dynamics of Developmental Processes— Zheng Yan and Kurt Fischer The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year: A Microgenetic Case Study— Alan Fogel and Ilse DeKoeyer-Laros The Spotlight Program: An Integrative Approach to Teaching Social Pragmatics Using Dramatic Principles and Techniques— Matthew D. Lerner and Karen Levine Age and Sex-based Differences in Social Interactions and Spacing in Mantled Howling Monkey: Implications for Juvenile Social Development—Michelle A. Rodrigues Book Reviews Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees—Maria Botero Young Minds in Social Worlds—Ira Glovinsky No Child Left Different—Serife Tekin


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Bethesda, Maryland

Copyright © 2007

The Journal of Developmental Processes
Editor-in-Chief Stanley I. Greenspan Chairman, Interdisciplinary Council for Developmental and Learning Disorders Departments of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences, and Pediatrics George Washington University Medical School Washington, DC, USA StanleyGreenspanMD@comcast.net Editor Barbara J. King Department of Anthropology College of William and Mary Williamsburg, Virginia, USA bjking@wm.edu Associate Editor-in-Chief Serena Wieder Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders Bethesda, Maryland, USA swieder@erols.com Associate Editor Ira Glovinsky The Interdisciplinary Center for the Family West Bloomfield, Michigan, USA ira1834@sbcglobal.net Administrative Editor Jane Mild LaRoque Lexington, Massachusetts, USA jmlaroque@rcn.com Editorial Assistant Meghan Habas Siudzinski College of William and Mary Williamsburg, Virginia, USA jdpstaff@gmail.com

JDP Editorial Board
Margaret Bauman The Ladders Program Harvard University Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA Leon Cytryn Departments of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences, and Pediatrics George Washington University Washington, DC, USA Alan Fogel Department of Psychology University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah, USA Gil Foley Department of Psychology Ferkauf Graduate School Yeshiva University Bronx, New York, USA Sima Gerber Department of Linguistics and Communication Disorders Queens College, CUNY Flushing, New York, USA Morton Ann Gernsbacher Department of Psychology University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, Wisconsin, USA Barbara Kalmanson Clinical Psychologist San Francisco, California, USA Pnina Klein School of Education Bar-Ilan University Ramat-Gan, Israel Marc Lewis Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology University of Toronto Canada Robert Lickliter Department of Psychology Florida International University Miami, Florida, USA Pedro Reygadas Department of Anthropology El Colegio de San Luis San Luis Potosí, Mexico Ricki G. Robinson Descanso Medical Center for Development & Learning University of Southern California La Canada, California, USA Rebecca Shahmoon Shanok Jewish Board of Family Services Child Development Center New York, New York, USA Stuart Shanker Department of Philosophy and Psychology The Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative York University Toronto, Canada Barbara Smuts Department of Psychology University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA Richard Solomon Ann Arbor Center for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Ann Arbor, Michigan Christina Toren School of Social Anthropology University of St. Andrews St. Andrews, Scotland

The Journal gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative (MEHRI),York University, Toronto, Canada. For more information, please see www.MEHRI.com.

Editorial: Literature, Music, and Developmental Science
Barbara J. King
Department of Anthropology College of William and Mary bjking@wm.edu

These days I read a great deal of American and European contemporary fiction and, arguably, learn as much about human behavior in that way as I do from science. The two realms, literature and science, inform each other. It’s always fun when, immersed in novel-world, I’m catapulted by some striking passage back into thinking about developmental science. Most recently, this happened as I read Ann Packer’s Songs Without Words.1 Two of Packer’s characters, Americans, carry out this conversation: Mark: “Every wonder who you’d be . . . if you were you but raised somewhere else?”

Sarabeth: “Like China?” Mark: “Or next door. Or Italy, or an orphanage, or a hut. How much of yourself would remain?”

Sarabeth: “There’d be no one to observe it—to compare.” Mark: “But if there were.”

Sarabeth: “Environment is everything.” Mark: “Biology is.”

Sarabeth: “Two things can’t be everything.” Mark: “Maybe together they can.”

Biology and environment can, I think, each be everything: in one sense it’s a puzzle to boggle the mind, in another sense, a beautiful expression of systems thinking. Biology and environment co-create us. The co-creation occurs not via a simple 50-50 divide (half genes, half environment) but in a far more intricate series of interrelated

1. New York: Knopf, 2007; quoted material is from p. 170. Fans of Packer’s Dive from Clausen’s Pier are likely to appreciate this novel too.




processes.2 For years, coming from a systems perspective of this type, I studied the communicative development of apes and wrote about its potential significance for understanding the evolution of language, and even the deepest roots of culture and religion.3 And, during hours of data collection at the National Zoological Park in Washington, DC, I watched what happened as children approached the gorilla enclosure. Almost always, a child’s face would light up as she caught sight of two gorilla juveniles tumbling in play, or of the large, magnificent silverback male strutting around in the sunshine. The child might press closer to see better, her whole body alive with enthusiasm, as she called out questions or perhaps addressed the gorillas directly. This is the same glow of curiosity that we see when a child finds a frog in the backyard and runs to share part of the living world with us. What happened next, at the zoo, depended on the adult in charge. The parent, teacher, or camp counselor sometimes smiled, and began to point out fascinating details (“Look! The mom gorilla is putting the baby up on her back to carry around!”), or sometimes simply stopped and absorbed the sights alongside the child. When this kind of interaction took place, the child’s pleasure and engagement grew before my eyes. Other adults appeared to be consumed with the need to rush headlong through the zoo in order to “see everything,” or to meet the bus at its departure time for going home. In this kind of situation, as he was tugged away, the child’s whole body deflated. Like joy, disappointment is embodied. These zoo memories bubbled up for me as I read a fascinating article in the Washington Post Magazine. Called “Pearls before Breakfast” and written by Gene Weingarten,4 the article isn’t focused on children. It tells what happened when a world-class violinist was hired by the Post to play in the Washington, DC subway. The object of this exercise was to discover whether people, as they hurried to work, would recognize musical mastery when it blazed into their morning. Would they stop and listen? Virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, dressed in jeans, T-shirt, and baseball cap, looked completely undistinguished as he began his subway gig. This casual attire was purposeful, of course: the music alone was meant to arrest people in their tracks. Numbers tell the basic story: Bell played six classical pieces in a 43-minute period, during which time 1,097 commuters walked past him. Of these people, 27 gave him money. Only seven stopped to listen for at least a minute. Almost all, in other words, had no time or inclination to listen. Here’s the finding that arrested me: “There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding . . . but the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”

2. One of my favorite scholarly explanations of this concept comes from R. Lickliter and H. Honeycutt’s “Developmental dynamics: Toward a biologically plausible evolutionary psychology,” Psychological Bulletin 129(6): 819-835, 2003. 3. My books The Dynamic Dance: Nonvocal Communication in African Apes (Harvard University Press, 2004) and Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion (Doubleday, 2007) reflect this work. 4. April 8, 2007; quoted material is from p. 17.

Editorial: Literature, Music, and Developmental Science


It was the children who heard the beauty; children who tried to stop and listen. Weingarten doesn’t reflect upon this remarkable observation, but we should. We adults can allow a child’s joy—for muscular gorillas, at majestic music—to blossom not despite us, but in concert with us, shared by us, co-created by us. We can let a child’s natural love for animals and music, and indeed for all of life’s wonders, thrive in a loving learning environment.

This Issue
With this issue, we at the JDP make concrete our intention to embrace developmental analyses not only beyond the human arena, but also beyond the primate taxa. Jaime Tanner, Laura Smale, and Kay Holekamp present and discuss, in the JDP Forum, the first-ever long-term dataset on play patterns on free-living spotted hyenas. How is play in this female-dominated species affected by variables ranging from sex of cubs to availability of prey in the surrounding environment? The answers are sometimes surprising, and Tanner et al. consider them in the context of variation and its meaning. Also in the Forum, Camille Ward and Barbara Smuts, who study domestic dogs, broaden the comparative viewpoint. They propose that certain sequences of play bouts may function as metacommunication in mediating relationships, and they advocate the study of play at a “micro” level that deals with dyadic variation and change in relationships over time. Readers who work with children are likely to find points of connection in both Forum pieces. A focus on theories, methods, and results related to micro-development turns out to be a theme in two other papers in this issue, including Zheng Yan and Kurt Fischer’s on patterns shown by students engaged in learning a basic computing skill. The authors analyze variations in performance across 30 students and then apply dynamicsystems theory to interpret pattern emergence and pattern transition related to this variation. They conclude by exploring the implications of their findings so educators and clinicians may better grasp complex real-world patterns of change in learning by appreciating a non-linear approach. Detailed “micro” investigation of patterns of change within a mother-infant dyad across a 9-month period anchors the contribution by Alan Fogel and Ilse DeKoeyerLaros. Here we see how the “micro” approach, aimed at an up-close look at a single behavioral frame (pounding) in a single pair, yield insights related to intersubjectivity. Through detailed analysis, the authors discovered four developmental periods with distinct qualitative differences in patterns of dyadic communication and in the infant’s emerging self-awareness. Like the Yan and Fisher paper, and the Ward and Smuts Forum response, the Fogel and DeKoeyer-Laros article invokes concepts of dynamicsystems theory to explore key results. Matthew Lerner and Karen Levine describe the Spotlight Program, a type of affect-based intervention that aims to teach adolescents with Aspberger syndrome a range of skills in social pragmatics. Spotlight addresses deficits in children’s socialemotional functioning through carefully devised strategies embedded in games and



dramatic techniques. Lerner and Levine assess outcomes to date in Spotlight’s target population and consider future directions for this program and others of its kind. An article on development in free-living mantled howling monkeys brings us full circle back to the nonhuman realm. Michelle Rodrigues examines age- and sex-based patterns of social interactions in this species, a particularly interesting primate because it is known for very low levels of social interaction. Juveniles, in Rodrigues’ study, were the most active participants in social interaction; her analysis illuminates ways in which immatures may take active roles in establishing social contacts and social relationships. Once again, we are invited to consider the connection between processes of development in human and nonhuman populations. A trio of book reviews rounds out this issue. Maria Botero has a look at an edited volume from Tetsuro Matsuzawa and colleagues on chimpanzee development; Ira Glovinsky considers Katherine Nelson’s new book on Young Minds in Social Worlds; and Serife Tekin explores a collection on children and models of mental illness edited by Sharna Olfman. So, then, welcome to this fall/winter feast of findings, ideas, and questions about the processes of development. I hope you’ll put this JDP issue on the very top of the stack of books beside your reading chair or bed—and, too, if a book moves you to new insights about our families, our children, or any of the deeply intertwined processes of development we collectively care about—I hope you’ll send me a note and let me know. And do stay tuned. Forthcoming JDP issues are already shaping up to be exciting; please invite your colleagues and students to consider submitting their work to us, and please keep your own manuscripts coming.

JDP FORUM Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas
Jaime B. Tanner
Department of Zoology Michigan State University tannerja@msu.edu

Laura Smale
Department of Psychology Michigan State University

Kay E. Holekamp
Department of Zoology Michigan State University

Abstract: Despite the fact that play behavior is common during the early post-natal development of many mammals, it remains a process about which we know remarkably little. In a population of free-living spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) 1–30 months old, we documented ontogenetic patterns in rates of five types of play: social play, romping, object play, play-mounting and non-nutritive chewing. Because spotted hyenas exhibit several sexually dimorphic traits that are “sex-role reversed” relative to those found in other mammals, we also inquired about sexual dimorphism in rates of play. In addition, we tested hypotheses about the environmental factors that influence rates of play in hyena cubs 2–4 months old, the period during which play occurs most frequently. Social play occurred at higher rates, and continued for a longer period during ontogeny, than did any other type of play. Whereas social play is more frequent in males than females of many other mammalian species, this was not the case in spotted hyenas; this may be related to female dominance later in life in these animals. However, as is typical of other mammals, male hyena cubs engaged in play-mounting at much higher rates than did females. At 2–4 months of age, cubs of high-ranking mothers exhibited higher rates of social play than did cubs of low-ranking mothers. These varying ontogenetic patterns suggest that some benefits derived from play may be immediate, whereas other benefits may be deferred until later stages of development. They also suggest that the genetic and neuroendocrine mechanisms mediating expression of this heterogeneous behavior most likely vary among different forms of play. These suggestions may apply to play in humans as well as in hyenas. Thus, although the ontogenetic patterns and forms of play differ between hyenas and humans, the underlying mechanisms and the long-term benefits of play behavior may, in fact, be remarkably similar.




Play is one of the most ubiquitous developmental processes known to occur in mammals, yet it also remains one of the most poorly understood. Because little is currently known about its functions, we adopt the structural definition of play suggested by Bekoff and Byers (1981, pp. 300–301), as “any post-natal motor activity that appears to be purposeless, in which motor patterns from other contexts may often be used in modified forms and temporal sequencing.” Although this definition implies that play may serve no purpose, the frequency with which play occurs among juveniles, its wide taxonomic distribution (Fagen, 1981), and its costs with respect to energy expenditure and predation risk (Harcourt, 1991) suggest that play probably has important fitness consequences in the lives of mammals. Bekoff (1984) and Byers (1998) have argued that careful documentation of the occurrence of play during ontogenetic development in a wide array of species is a necessary prerequisite for evaluating alternative hypotheses that suggest specific functions of play. Among mammals, rates of play are frequently highest, and the forms of play most diverse, in primates and carnivores (Fagen, 1981). Thus, the study of play in members of these orders may provide useful insights into the adaptive significance of these behaviors. Here we report on play behavior in a highly gregarious carnivore, the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Spotted hyenas live in complex social groups, called clans, which may contain up to 90 individuals (Kruuk, 1972). Every clan is structured by a strict linear dominance hierarchy, and an individual’s position in the hierarchy determines its priority of access to food (Engh et al., 2002; Kruuk, 1972). Juvenile hyenas “inherit” the social ranks of their mothers (Holekamp & Smale, 1993; Smale, Frank, & Holekamp, 1993) via the same mechanisms as those operating in cercopithecine primates (Engh, Esch, Smale, & Holekamp, 2000). Female Crocuta give birth in an isolated natal den to litters of one, two, or rarely three cubs. Cubs remain at the natal den for the first 2–5 weeks of life (East, Hofer, & Turk, 1989; Kruuk, 1972). They are then brought to the clan’s communal den where the cubs of multiple females are sheltered together in an underground burrow system. Cubs live in a communal den until 8–12 months of age, after which they cease using the den for shelter, and begin traveling around the clan’s territory with their mother. The communal den serves as the social center of the clan and is periodically visited by all clan members. When older hyenas are present at the den, cubs emerge to nurse, rest, and play. As in other mammals, the play behavior exhibited by hyenas and other carnivores takes a variety of forms. These include play-fighting, sexual play, object play, and solitary locomotor play. Although it is widely recognized that each form of play behavior might have its own function, and thus offer unique benefits to the individual, it is not always clear whether such benefits are immediate for the developing animal or deferred until adulthood (Pellegrini & Smith, 1998). One of the goals of this study was to assess the various forms of play behavior exhibited by spotted hyenas in their natural habitat, and to document the relative frequency at which each form of play occurs throughout ontogeny. Like Byers (1998), we view this as a critical first step toward understanding the functional significance of each type of play.

Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


Another goal of our study was to evaluate sexual dimorphism in play behavior. In many mammals (Bekoff, 1974), including humans (Hines, 2003), some forms of play appear strongly sexually dimorphic whereas others do not. In those species for which the physiological substrates of play have been examined, sexually dimorphic forms of play are mediated by pre- or early post-natal exposure to androgenic hormones or their metabolites (monkeys, Goy, 1996; Goy, Bercovitch, & McBrair, 1988; Goy & Wallen, 1979; humans, Hines, 2003; ground squirrels, Nunes, Muecke, Anthony, & Batterbee, 1999). The spotted hyena is a particularly interesting species in which to examine sexual dimorphism in play behavior because many aspects of the behavior and morphology of female hyenas are heavily masculinized. For example, females are more aggressive than males (Szykman et al., 2003), and as adults, females are also socially dominant to males (Kruuk, 1972). In these respects, spotted hyenas are thus “sex-role reversed” relative to mammalian norms. Furthermore, the external genitalia of female hyenas are strongly virilized; the hypertrophied clitoris forms a large and fully erectile pseudopenis, and the fused vaginal labia form a structure resembling the scrotal sac of the male. Recent experimental work with captive hyenas has shown that, although androgens later modify the fine structure of the phallus, these odd genitalia develop before androgens are present and therefore formation of the genitalia must be largely androgenindependent (Drea et al., 2002; Drea et al., 1998; Glickman, Cunha, Drea, Conley, & Place, 2006; Glickman, Short, & Renfree, 2005). However, the maternal ovary produces high concentrations of a weak androgen called androstenedione, which is transformed by placental enzymes into testosterone that reaches developing fetuses via the umbilical vein (Licht et al., 1998; Yalcinkaya et al., 1993). Fetal hyenas of both sexes are thus apparently bathed in androgens late in gestation. Work with primates and rodents has shown that perinatal androgen exposure masculinizes social and sexual play behavior in juveniles, even in the absence of any circulating hormone during the period of ontogeny when play occurs (Goy, Bercovitch, & McBrair, 1988; Goy & Wallen, 1979; Nunes, Muecke, Anthony, & Batterbee, 1999; Pellis, 2002). Furthermore, the masculinizing effect of androgen on juvenile play behavior is separated in time from its masculinizing effect on genital differentiation (Wallen & Baum, 2002). In rhesus monkeys, for example, androgen exposure early in fetal development masculinizes the genitalia of the female but has no effect on juvenile play behavior; by contrast, androgen exposure late in gestation produces no genital masculinization, but strongly affects juvenile rough-and-tumble play and playmounting (Goy, Bercovitch, & McBrair, 1988). Similarly, in humans, girls affected with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), and consequently exposed to heightened levels of testosterone prenatally, exhibit more male-typical toy preferences and more masculine play behaviors than unaffected girls (Hines, 2003). Interestingly, in both humans (Hines, 2003) and spotted hyenas (Dloniak, French, & Holekamp, 2006), naturally-occurring variations in concentrations of maternal androgens during pregnancy are associated with variations in the sexually dimorphic play behavior of the offspring resulting from those pregnancies. That is, in both species, higher androgen concentrations in pregnant females are later associated with higher rates of some forms of male-typical play in female offspring. However, it is not



currently known how many different forms of play are sexually dimorphic among young spotted hyenas, nor which forms of play might be influenced by prenatal androgen exposure. If androgens influence play in spotted hyenas as they do in primates and other mammals, then patterns of both social play and play-mounting in female hyenas should be similar to those of males. Pedersen et al. (1990) found that, among captive hyenas in same-sex groups, females engaged in more social play than did males. In the current study, we evaluated this possibility in wild spotted hyenas. Our final goal was to test two hypotheses about particular classes of environmental variables known to influence rates of play in other mammals: energy availability and social context. Numerous studies on juvenile animals ranging from birds to primates have shown that rates of play decrease when energy supplies decline (Baldwin & Baldwin, 1976; Barrett, Dunbar, & Dunbar, 1992; Bateson, Mendl, & Feaver, 1990; Nunes, Muecke, Anthony, & Batterbee, 1999; Nunes et al., 2004; Pozis-Francois, Zahavi, & Zahavi, 2004; Rajpurohit, Sommer, & Mohnot, 1995; Sharpe, Clutton-Brock, Brotherton, Cameron, & Cherry, 2002). However, in some species the opposite relationship has been shown. For instance, a reduction in energy availability, inducing an early onset of weaning, increases rates of social and locomotor play in domestic cats (Martin & Bateson, 1985). Similarly, underfed rats play more than well-fed individuals (Loranca, Torrero, & Salas, 1999), and captive chimpanzees and bonobos engage in more social play before than after feeding; in these species play might function to reduce the intensity of aggression and competition around food (Palagi, Cordoni, & Borgognini Tarli, 2004; Palagi, Paoli, & Borgognini Tarli, 2006). Here we tested several predictions of a hypothesis suggesting that low levels of available energy are associated with relatively low rates of play in hyena cubs. Because intra-litter rank has a significant effect on cub growth rates (Hofer & East, 1996; Wahaj & Holekamp, 2006), we inquired whether rates of play behavior also varied here with intralitter rank. If so, we expected dominant cubs within twin litters to play at higher rates than their subordinate siblings, as they enjoy superior access to the mother’s milk. Social dominance determines priority of access to food resources in this species, with high-ranking individuals enjoying better food access than lowranking ones (Kruuk, 1972). Therefore, if the hypothesis is correct that energy affects hyena play, we expected that rates of play would be elevated in cubs with highranking mothers relative to those with lower-ranking mothers. Furthermore, after controlling for numbers of potential play partners, we expected singleton cubs, which have sole access to their mother’s milk and therefore grow faster than twins (Hofer & East, 1996), to exhibit more play than cubs from twin litters. Additionally, if food availability affects rates of play, then play rates should be lower in all cubs during periods when food is scarce than during periods of prey abundance. Finally, one important feature of the immediate social context that might influence rates of play is the number of potential play partners available to an animal (Poirier & Smith, 1974). The number of available partners can be quite variable for spotted hyena cubs, which live for several months at a communal den where offspring of two to several adult females may reside. If availability of play partners affects rates of play, we expected that individuals from large cohorts of cubs would play at higher rates than individuals from small cohorts. We emphasize that hypotheses suggesting energetic

Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


and social variables as determinants of play rates are not mutually exclusive, and that multiple variables might be operating concurrently to affect rates of play.

Materials and Methods Study Animals
We collected data from members of one large clan of spotted hyenas inhabiting the Talek region of the Masai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya (Boydston, 2001; Frank, 1986). Adult and sub-adult hyenas were identified individually by their unique spot patterns. Young cubs, which have a solid black lanugo, were identified on the basis of distinctive scars, nicks on the ears and patterns of molt. Relationships between mothers and offspring were determined based on nursing associations, and birth dates were estimated (± 7 days) based on the appearance of cubs when they were first observed (Holekamp, Smale, & Szykman, 1996). Cub sex was determined from the dimorphic shape of the glans of the erect phallus (Frank, Glickman, & Powch, 1990).

Data Collection
Repeated focal animal samples (Altmann, 1974), lasting on average 27 ± 2.11 minutes, were conducted on individual hyenas ranging in age from less than 1 month to adulthood. All occurrences of play were recorded during focal sampling. Ontogenetic data were collected between June 15, 1988 and August 14, 1998 from 24 males and 20 females, including 13 singletons and 31 animals from twin litters. Most cubs were sampled biweekly between birth and 30 months of age, with an average of 2.05 ± 0.21 hours of focal animal sampling for each individual during every two-month age interval. A total of 691 focal sampling hours were included in this component of the study. Den-dwelling cubs spend much of the day underground, typically entering the den 2–3 hours after sunrise and emerging again in the late afternoon, approximately 2–3 hours before sunset. Behavioral data were therefore collected mainly during daylight hours between 0600 h and 0900 h, and again between 1600 h and 1930 h. The same two observers (K.E.H. and L.S.) collected all data included in the 2–4 month and play-mounting analyses. However, the larger ontogenetic study, which spanned a decade, included observations made by sixteen observers who usually worked in pairs. All observers were blind with respect to the hypotheses tested here, and all were trained individually by K.E.H. for several months. Observers were allowed to collect data independently only once they could consistently and accurately identify all of the study animals as well as all play behaviors described below. Play was consistently recognized by observers based on exaggerated movements, apparent purposelessness, specific initiation postures, and the absence of either aggressive posturing or vocalizations indicative of pain inflicted when bitten by another individual. We observed five types of play behavior: social play, romping, object play, play-mounting and non-nutritive chewing. Social play involved multiple individuals



engaged together in chasing, wrestling, jumping or chewing on one another. Romping was identified as exaggerated running and jumping behavior exhibited by solitary individuals. Object play occurred when we observed an animal running with or tugging on sticks, bones, feathers or old scraps of skin. Play-mounting involved one cub approaching another from behind and placing its forepaws on the back of another cub to assume a posture like that exhibited by adult males during copulation; the phallus was often erect during play-mounting, but was not a necessary condition for us to record the occurrence of this form of play. If the animal being mounted did not pull away immediately, then the mounting animal typically also exhibited thrusting behavior, but no intromission. Lastly, one additional type of object play recorded here, seen mainly in carnivores, is non-nutritive chewing. This is defined as biting or gnawing on objects from which little or no energy or nutrients could be derived, including plants, sticks, or old dried pieces of bone (Fagen, 1981; Power, 2000). To determine whether nonnutritive chewing might simply reflect a process similar to the teething behavior seen in human infants, we examined non-nutritive chewing here in relation to patterns of tooth eruption and replacement in hyenas. All types of play behavior occurred in bouts lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. In order to compare rates of play and examine effects of energetic and social variables on play rates, we recorded all play behaviors as states rather than discrete events. That is, if any play of a particular type occurred within a given minute of observation, then that 60-second interval was counted as a minute of play of that type. If a particular type of play occurred in multiple shorter bouts within a single minute, this was nevertheless counted as having occurred only once. Hourly rates of play behavior of each type were calculated for every individual in each two-month age interval from birth to 30 months of age. Rates were calculated by dividing the number of minutes in which each type of play occurred by the number of minutes in which that animal was observed as a focal animal during each age interval. Although rates of play-mounting were recorded as states for purposes of comparison with other types of play, for more detailed analyses of play-mounting we also recorded each mount by a particular individual as a discrete event, such that it could be recorded as occurring multiple times within a given minute of observation. Each occurrence of play-mounting was recorded as a critical incident (Altmann, 1974) from 21 male cubs and 15 female cubs monitored throughout the first 8 months of life during all observation sessions at dens. An observation session began when we arrived at the den, and ended when observers left the den. Observation sessions at dens ranged in duration from 5 minutes to several hours. Cubs included in this analysis of play mounts as critical incidents were each observed at dens for an average of 117 ± 4 hours. These data were collected during 4212 hours of observation of all cubs individually. In order to examine potential effects on play rates of social (cohort size) and energetic variables (prey density, litter size, intralitter rank and maternal social rank) we focused exclusively on the 2–4 month age interval because this proved to be the period during which the highest rates of play were observed. Of the original 44 cubs observed in the overall ontogenetic analysis, 40 (23 males and 17 females) were included in analyses focused exclusively on the 2–4 month age interval. We used a mean of 7.00 ± 0.48 focal animal samples per individual in this analysis (3.58 ± 0.23 focal

Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


samples per individual per month), such that each individual was observed for an average of 3.36 ± 0.22 hours during the 2–4 month age interval. The total observation time used for focal animal sampling in this component of the study was 134 hours. We evaluated dominance relationships among mothers on the basis of the direction of submissive behaviors (Holekamp & Smale, 1993); by convention, the highest ranking female was assigned a rank of one. Cubs were assigned the same social ranks as their mothers. The hierarchy was then divided into equal thirds and individuals were assigned to one of three categories; high-, mid- and low-ranking. Throughout the study period bi-weekly prey censuses were conducted by counting all ungulates within 100m of each of two 4 km transects to monitor local prey availability in the Talek area. Prey availability was categorized as either high or low at each census based on whether the count was above or below the mean prey density for the entire study period. For each individual, its cohort size was calculated as the number of cubs born within six months of its birth date. Rank relations within litters were determined both by outcomes of dyadic aggressive interactions between littermates and by nursing positions. The dominant cub within a litter usually assumes a preferred nursing position against the mother’s belly whereas the subordinate cub typically nurses while lying between the mother’s hind legs (Wahaj & Holekamp, 2006).

Statistical Analyses
For the overall ontogenetic analysis we used non-parametric statistics to evaluate effects of age and sex on play rates because these data were not normally distributed. Within each age interval we compared rates for males and females, using the MannWhitney-U test statistic, and we examined changes across all age intervals with a Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA, followed by multiple comparisons among specific intervals using Bonferroni corrections. We used a Friedman test statistic to analyze variation in play rates throughout ontogeny for individuals for which we had data from all age intervals. For each sex we examined variation in the number of play mounts exhibited during the first 8 months of life using the Friedman test statistic, followed by comparisons among specific intervals using Wilcoxon Signed Ranks tests. A Spearman’s correlation coefficient was calculated to examine relationships between maternal social rank and rates of play-mounting. These statistical analyses were performed in STATISTICA 6.1 (Statsoft, 2002). To test hypotheses about the effects of social and energetic factors on rates of play during the 2–4 month age interval, we used a generalized linear model (GLIM) with binomial error distributions and a logit link function to analyze each play type. A quasi-binomial distribution was used in order to correct for over dispersion in the model, and the significance of each term was evaluated using an F test (Crawley, 1993). The number of minutes during which a cub was observed engaging in a particular type of play throughout the 2–4 month age interval, and the number of minutes observed in which that type of play did not occur, comprised the binomial response variable in each model. This approach analyzes the proportion of minutes in which a specific type of play was observed, but weights the analysis based on the number of



minutes observed (Venables & Ripley, 1999). The same predictor variables were initially used in each model, with cohort size as a continuous predictor and sex, litter size (singleton or twin), social rank (high, mid, low) and prey availability (high, low) as categorical predictors. Each model was then simplified by eliminating any variables that did not contribute to its explanatory power. Only individuals observed for at least 30 minutes during the 2–4 month age interval were included in this analysis. The GLIM analysis was conducted using R software version 2.1.1 (R Core Development Team, 2005). Finally, to evaluate the effect of intra-litter dominance on rates of play during the 2–4 month age interval we performed Wilcoxon matched pairs analyses between dominant and subordinate littermates. Differences between groups were considered significant when α <0.05 after Bonferroni correction, and mean values are presented as ± SE throughout.

Results Ontogenetic Variation in Rates of Play
Social play was the type of play behavior most frequently observed, occurring on average during more than 12 minutes in each hour observed during the 2–4 month age interval (Figure 1a). The overall mean rate of social play between birth and 30 months of age was 4.50 ± 0.38 min/hr, but rates peaked during the second 2-month age interval, and then declined (Figure 1a, Kruskal-Wallis H (18,268), F = 121.6, p < 0.00001). As we did not manage to sample every cub in every age interval, we performed a repeated-measures ANOVA on only the subset of cubs (n =13) sampled in every interval from 0–20 months, and we observed a pattern of results identical to that in our original analysis (Friedman test statistic = 41.46, Kendall coefficient of concordance = 0.39, df = 8, p < 0.00001). We found no sex difference in rates of social play (MannWhitney U = 204, p = 0.40). Interestingly, social play continued into adulthood at hourly rates much higher than those observed for any other form of play (Figure 1). Romping occurred, on average, during 1.61 ± 0.20 min/hr between birth and 30 months of age. The highest rates of romping occurred during the first two months of – life (x = 7.83 ± 1.97 min/hr), and dropped to near-zero values after 6 months of age (Figure 1b, Kruskal-Wallis H (18,268), F = 155.04, p < 0.00001). Analysis of the subset of cubs sampled in every age interval produced the same pattern (Friedman test statistic = 46.98, Kendall coefficient of concordance = 0.45, df = 8, p < 0.00001). We found no sex difference in rates of romping (Mann-Whitney U = 190.5, p = 0.24). Play-mounting was the only type of play for which we found a significant sex difference (Figure 1c, Mann-Whitney U = 94, p = 0.0005), with males engaging in this activity at much higher rates than females. Play-mounting occurred at lower rates throughout development than did either social play or romping (males: – = 0.30 ± 0.07 x min/hr; females: = 0.05 ± 0.02), but there was significant variation among age classes (Figure 1c, Kruskal-Wallis H (18, 268), F = 66.78, p < 0.00001). For males, a peak in mounting rates occurred during the second age interval, at 2–4 months of age (Figure

Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


Communal Den 14

Social Play (min/hr)






0–2 2–4 4–6 6–8 8–10 10–12 12–14 14–16 16–18 18–20 20–22 22–24 24–26 26–28 28–30

Age (Months)

Communal Den 10 8
Romp (min/hr)

6 4 2

0–2 2–4 4–6 6–8 8–10 10–12 12–14 14–16 16–18 18–20 20–22 22–24 24–26 26–28 28–30

Age (Months)

FIGURE 1. Ontogenetic variation in rates of (a) social play, (b) romping, (c) playmounting, (d) object play and (e) non-nutritive chewing in spotted hyenas. Age classes represent two month intervals (e.g., 0–2 month interval includes individuals from 0.1 months to 2 months of age). Because no significant sex differences were found in other forms of play, separate rates for males and females are shown only in “c.” Horizontal bars indicate the period during which cubs live at the clan’s communal den on all graphs and on (e) periods of tooth eruption. Note that y-axis scales vary considerably.

1.6 1.4 1.2 Play Mounting (min/hr) 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 0–2


Communal Den Males Females




8–10 10–12 12–14 14–16 16–18 18–20 20–22 22–24 Age (Months)

1.0 Communal Den

0.8 Object Play (min/hr)




0–2 2–4 4–6 6–8 8–10 10–12 12–14 14–16 16–18 18–20 20–22 22–24 24–26 26–28 28–30

Age (Months)

1c). Mounting behavior vanished from the play repertoire much earlier than did other forms of play; it was never observed after 12 months of age among females, nor after 16 months of age among males. Male spotted hyenas pass through puberty at around 24 months of age (Holekamp & Smale, 1998). – Object play occurred at the lowest rates of any play type observed (x = 0.25 ± 0.03 min/hr). Although we observed significant variation among age classes in rates of object play for all individuals, and also for those individuals sampled in every age inter-

Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


10 Communal Den Milk Teeth Erupting 8
Non-nutritive chewing (min/hr)

Adult Teeth Erupting 6



0–2 2–4 4–6 6–8 8–10 10–12 12–14 14–16 16–18 18–20 20–22 22–24 24–26 26–28 28–30

Age (Months)

val (Figure 1d, Kruskal-Wallis H (18, 268), F= 148.34, p < 0.00001; Friedman test statistic = 25.96, Kendall coefficient of concordance = 0.25, df = 8, p < 0.0011), the ontogenetic pattern in object play was less clear than for other forms of play. Rates of object play appeared to be largely determined by availability of suitable objects in the immediate environment of each focal cub at the time it was sampled. We found no significant difference between males and females in rates of object play (Mann-Whitney U = 204, p = 0.39). After social play, the mean rate of non-nutritive chewing was the highest of the – various types of play observed between birth and adulthood (x = 2.61 ± 0.24 min/hr), with cubs 2–4 months old spending a mean of 7 minutes of every hour observed engaged in this activity. We documented significant ontogenetic variation in rates of nonnutritive chewing (Figure 1e, Kruskal-Wallis H (18, 268), F = 148.34, p <0.00001; Friedman test statistic = 39.53, Kendall coefficient of concordance = 0.38, df = 8, – p < 0.00001). Chewing rates were highest between two and four months of age (x = 6.98 ± 0.68 min/hr), and then declined to nil by 24 months of age. To inquire whether higher rates of non-nutritive chewing reflected teething, we examined rates of this form of play in temporal relation to eruption of both deciduous (milk) teeth and adult dentition. Although Crocuta cubs are born with fully erupted deciduous incisors and canines (Frank, Glickman, & Licht, 1991), the deciduous cheek teeth erupt during the first several weeks after birth, and this process is complete by 2 months of age (Figure 2). There is then a 4-month hiatus before the adult teeth start to erupt at 6–7 months of age, followed by a period during which both milk and adult teeth are present concurrently. The adult teeth are fully erupted by 18 months of age



(Van Horn, McElhinny, & Holekamp, 2003). The highest rates of non-nutritive chewing occurred during the period (2–4 months of age) between eruptions of deciduous and adult teeth; rates declined significantly before initial eruption of the adult teeth (Figure 1e, multiple comparisons with corrected p-values: 2–4 months vs. 1–2 months, p < 0.000001; 2–4 months vs. 4–6 months, p < 0.00001; 2–4 months vs. 6–8 months p < 0.0001). This pattern was largely inconsistent with the hypothesis that this behavior represents teething. Furthermore, nonnutritive chewing was observed, albeit at low rates, at 18–22 months of age, after all adult teeth have fully erupted (Figure 1e).

Analysis of Play Mounts as Events
Mean rates of play-mounting were significantly higher among males than females during all but the youngest age interval (Figure 3a), during which 14 of 15 females exhibited no mounting at all but one female engaged in this behavior at an extremely high rate. Interestingly, as an adult, this female (RV) never reproduced and appeared to be infertile, so she may have been exposed FIGURE 2. The eruption of the deciduous in utero to an unusually high concentradentition (shaded) is complete by 2 months tion of androgens relative to other feof age. Adult teeth (white) begin to erupt males. Yalcinkaya et al. (1993) sugaround 6 months but are not fully erupted gested that early exposure of female until 18 months of age. spotted hyenas to androgens appears to severely modify ovarian histology, and it may be that this occurred in RV and impaired such physiological processes essential for female reproduction as oogenesis or ovulation. Among females, rates of play-mounting were generally low, and did not vary significantly with age (Friedman test statistic = 4.220, Kendall coefficient of concordance = 0.094, df = 3, p > 0.05; Figure 3a).

Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


40 35 30 Mounts/hr x 100 25 20 15 10 5 0 0–2 2–4 Age (Months) 4–6 6–8 Males Females

120 100 Mounts/hr (x 100) 80 60 40 20 0 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Maternal Rank 14 16 18 20

FIGURE 3. Rates of play-mounting when individual mounts were recorded as events a) among males and females throughout the first 8 months of life, b) among males between 2–4 months of age, as a function of their mothers’ social ranks.

Among males, rates of play-mounting varied significantly with age (Friedman test statistic = 15.857, Kendall coefficient of concordance = 0.252, p < 0.001; Figure 3a). Specifically, play-mounting rates were relatively low from 0–2 months, peaked during the 2–4 month age interval, decreased between 4–6 months, and subsequently remained relatively low between 6 and 8 months of age. Finally, mounting rates among males 2–4 months of age were positively correlated with maternal rank such that sons of high-ranking females engaged in this behavior at significantly higher rates than did sons of low-ranking females (Figure 3b; Spearman’s R= 0.389, F= 4.306, p < 0.05).



Modulating Influences on Play at 2–4 Months of Age
Table 1 presents mean rates of play of each type during the 2–4 month age interval, and shows how mean values for each play type were affected by each categorical predictor variable. Table 2 summarizes results from analyses using generalized linear models, indicating which independent variables had significant or near-significant effects on rates of play of each type. Because play-mounting was strongly sexually dimorphic, we included only males in the 2–4 month GLIM of this type of play. There was a trend for more romping to occur among males than females, but sex was not a significant predictor of romping rates (Table 2, GLIM, F1,38 = 5.29, p = 0.09), nor was any other independent variable included in the final model for this form of play. Singleton cubs engaged in object play at higher hourly rates than did cubs from twin litters (Tables 1 & 2, GLIM, F1, 38 = 4.71, p = 0.04), but litter size did not appear to affect rates of any other play type. None of the independent variables examined here had any appreciable influence on rates of non-nutritive chewing during the 2–4 month age interval. Similarly, intralitter rank appeared not to affect rates of any form of play, as we found no significant effects of this variable (Wilcoxon Matched Pairs, social play: n = 15, T = 55, p = 0.78; romp: n = 15, T = 53, p = 0.69; object play: n = 15, T = 19, p = 0.12; non-nutritive chewing: n = 15, T = 47, p = 0.73). Maternal dominance status had a significant effect on rates of social play, with high-ranking cubs engaging in more play than either mid- or low-ranking animals (Figure 4; Table 2, GLIM, F2, 36 = 3.27, p = 0.049). Unexpectedly, social play occurred more frequently during periods of low prey availability than during periods when prey were abundant (Tables 1 & 2, GLIM, F1,32 = 4.79, p = 0.04). Similarly, rates of play-mounting among males 2-4 months of age were higher during low than high prey periods (Table 2, GLIM, F1,18 = 5.29, p = 0.03). We observed a trend towards higher rates of social play in cohorts of large size (Table 2, GLIM, F1, 38 = 3.23, p = 0.08).

Play appears to be a significant component of the behavioral repertoire of wild spotted hyenas, particularly during early development. Drea et al. (1996) examined the emergence of play behavior in captive Crocuta cubs from twin litters in the first four weeks of life, a period during which wild cubs are seldom seen above ground, and found that rates of social play increased over these first few weeks. These authors hypothesized that early social play promotes the development of a repertoire of social behavior that prepares young cubs to become integrated into the clan when they are moved to the communal den (Drea, Hawk, & Glickman, 1997). When these results from captivity are combined with the data presented here from free-living Crocuta, we have, for the first time, a comprehensive description of the ontogenetic patterns of play in this gregarious carnivore.

Factors Modulating Rates of Play
Our results were mixed with respect to the potential effects of availability of energy and social partners on rates of play by hyena cubs. We documented a trend toward

Table 1.

Mean rates (min/hr) and SE by categorical predictor of each play type for Crocuta cubs 2–4 months of age. Significant (p < 0.05) predictors from generalized linear models are highlighted in bold font.
Litter Size Female Singleton Twin High Mid Social Rank Low High Prey Low


Play Type

– x


Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas

Social Chew Romp Mount Object

12.47±1.09 6.86±0.70 5.46±0.56 0.98±0.22 0.61±0.12

13.35±1.68 7.26±0.99 6.46±0.87 0.98±0.22 0.63±0.18

11.27±1.19 6.33±0.99 4.10±0.47 0.08±0.04 0.59±0.16

13.40±1.50 12.15±1.37 8.83±1.62 6.21±0.75 6.63±1.15 5.06±0.64 1.16±0.45 0.92±0.26 1.04±0.34 0.47±0.11

15.81±2.32 7.45±1.30 6.96±1.19 1.27±0.35 0.58±0.25

9.76±1.38 6.08±1.15 4.45±0.92 0.95±0.59 0.54±0.18

11.46±1.41 6.95±1.24 4.82±0.65 0.59±0.21 0.72±0.19

8.77±2.02 6.58±2.00 4.82±1.03 0.27±0.16 0.56±0.57

13.54±1.23 7.85±0.71 5.64±0.67 1.23±0.27 0.81±0.14


Table 2.


Factors associated with rates of play in 2–4 month old spotted hyena cubs (n = 40), identified in generalized linear models. Only significant terms (*), and terms that indicate trends, are presented.
Play Type Effect Model Term F df p


Low > high High > mid & low Larger > smaller M>F High > low

Prey category Rank category Cohort size Sex Prey category

4.79 3.27 3.23 5.29 5.29

1,32 2,36 1,38 1,38 1,18

0.04* 0.05* 0.08 0.09 0.03*

Romp Play mount (males only) Object Non-nutritive chewing

Singleton > twin

Litter size All N/S




higher rates of social play among cubs that grew up with the largest 18 cohorts of peers. This suggests, but 16 cannot confirm, that partner availB B ability influences patterns of play in 14 spotted hyenas. Similarly, although 12 the influence of available energy 10 on play rates was suggested by our finding that rates of all five play 8 types were higher in singletons than 6 in twins, none of these differences High Mid Low were statistically significant. Cubs Social Rank of the highest-ranking females enFIGURE 4. Rates of social play among cubs gaged in social play at significantly 2–4 months old in relation to maternal social higher rates than did their lowerrank category. Letters indicate significant dif- ranking peers (Figure 4). This result ference among maternal rank categories. is consistent with the notion that energy availability affects play rates, but an alternative explanation is that it reflects a preference among clan members for high-ranking play partners. Indeed, although partner preferences have not yet been examined in young hyenas, adult females prefer to associate with high-ranking females (Holekamp et al., 1997). More detailed analysis of play initiation is needed to evaluate kin and rank-related partner preferences during play among free-living Crocuta. We found that prey density was actually inversely related to rates of play among hyenas. Although this was surprising, there are at least two possible explanations. First, prey availability is relatively high throughout the year in the Masai Mara National Reserve (Ogutu & Dublin, 2002), where our Talek study site was situated. It is

Social Play (min/hr)

Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


therefore possible that, even during periods of low prey abundance, energy resources are sufficient to support high rates of play among Talek cubs. Indeed, fluctuations in prey abundance do not appear to affect cub survival in this study population (Watts, 2007). Alternatively, our time frame for looking at energy availability may have been too broad, and may therefore have obscured relationships between food intake and play. A finer-grained analysis of play in temporal relation to nursing bouts for individual cubs might reveal a different pattern from that observed here. Nevertheless, neither of these explanations could account for our observation of significantly higher rates of play during low than high prey periods. Some studies of other species have reported higher rates of play during periods of low than high food availability (Loranca, Torrero, & Salas, 1999; Martin & Bateson, 1985; Palagi, Cordoni, & Borgognini Tarli, 2004; Palagi, Paoli, & Borgognini Tarli, 2006). It has been suggested that play under these conditions may function to reduce stress associated with competition for limited food resources which might conceivably be the case among Talek hyenas. However, this seems unlikely among hyenas because, when we observe den-dwelling cubs that are energetically stressed after their mothers die, play is one of the first activities to disappear from their behavioral repertoire. Lastly, it is possible that female Crocuta spend more time in search of food during periods of prey scarcity, and less time at the den, than when prey are abundant. Therefore, increased rates of social play during the former periods might reflect more “free” time available to cubs lacking opportunities to nurse. This pattern appears to occur in juvenile vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) in which play rates are elevated when mothers are absent (Govindarajulu, Hunte, Vermeer, & Horrocks, 1993). We are currently examining the relationship between prey availability, den attendance, and other aspects of maternal care.

Possible Functions of Play in Spotted Hyenas
Although our goal was not to test specific hypotheses about the functions of each type of play, the ontogenetic patterns we observed here suggest some ways in which play might enhance fitness in spotted hyenas. In the wild, social play occurred more frequently and continued until much later in life than did any other form of play (Figure 1). The highest rates of social play occurred when cubs were 2–4 months old, during which time individuals engaged in vigorous social play for roughly 20% of each hour observed. This pattern suggests that the benefits derived from this form of play must be considerable in order to outweigh the energetic costs associated with it. These high rates of social play were observed shortly after cubs were brought to the clan’s communal den, when Crocuta cubs must learn not only the identities of their group members, but also their own places in the social hierarchy (Holekamp & Smale, 1993). The ontogenetic pattern observed here suggests that social play facilitates the acquisition of social knowledge and integration into the clan (Gomendio, 1988). It seems unlikely that adults would continue to engage in this activity if no benefits were accruing from it. Indeed, the persistence of social play behavior from the natal den into adulthood suggests that the benefits from this form of play probably continue to accrue



long after cubs become independent of the den. Although adults were observed playing away from the den, their play rates may largely reflect interactions with dendwelling cubs when older focal individuals returned to the den to visit. It may be that the older individuals are gaining information about new members of the clan by playing with them, or that they are honing their own parental skills during their extensive playful interactions with young cubs. Rates of romping were highest during the first two months of life, but subsequently decreased. The first months of life are critical for developing locomotor skills, and it is likely that romping enhances the development of coordination and movement in very young cubs, as predicted by the motor training hypothesis (Spinka, Newberry, & Bekoff, 2001). The gradual decrease in romping after two months of age may also reflect a transition from individual play to social play that accompanies transfer from the natal den to the communal den between 2–5 weeks of age. That is, to the extent that play facilitates development of coordination and other motor skills, these benefits may be attained mainly from vigorous social play, rather than solitary romping, after the first few weeks of life. Social play, play-mounting and non-nutritive chewing all reached their peaks during the 2–4 month age interval, shortly after cubs were moved to the clan’s communal den. However, these rates of play were not merely a response to living at the communal den, as they dropped to adult levels before cubs became independent of the den. Furthermore, captive cubs play at high rates during the first few weeks of life, even in the absence of a communal den (Drea, Hawk, & Glickman, 1996). If these forms of play facilitate acquisition by cubs of new information about their social and physical environments, the fact that play rates drop even before wild cubs leave the den suggests that the ability to capture new information via playful interactions is declining. We found that solitary object play occurred quite infrequently throughout ontogeny, but the rarity of this play type may merely reflect a shortage of suitable objects (“toys”) at the den, or the abundance of playmates there. Non-nutritive chewing is not likely to be primarily associated with tooth eruption or alveolar development in spotted hyenas, as the highest rates of this form of play were observed during an age interval when no tooth eruption is occurring (Figure 1e). Additionally, the skull and jaw muscles of a spotted hyena continue to develop even after 32 months of age (Tanner, 2007), whereas rates of non-nutritive chewing drop dramatically after 18 months, and this behavior is no longer observed after 22 months of age. Although we are unable to rule out the possibility that non-nutritive chewing might stimulate musculo-skeletal development early in life, its occurrence certainly does not correspond well with the period of most pronounced change in the morphology of the feeding apparatus. Another possible function of non-nutritive chewing is that it allows individuals to explore their immediate environment. Spotted hyenas, like other cursorial carnivores, are limited in their abilities to manipulate objects with their forelimbs when compared with primates or even with more dexterous carnivores such as bears or raccoons (Glickman & Sroges, 1966). Hyenas may therefore rely heavily on their mouths for gaining information about objects encountered in their environments. Thus it is not surprising that the rates of this activity are highest after individuals have moved to a new environment when they are transferred to the clan’s communal den.

Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


Sex Differences in Play and Their Implications
The variation observed here among the different types of play suggests that the mechanisms underlying their development might also vary. Although we found that rates of play-mounting were higher in male than female hyena cubs, rates of social play did not differ between the sexes. By contrast, in many other mammalian species including humans, males typically engage in higher rates of both of these forms of play than do females (Table 3). In a study of captive spotted hyenas, Pedersen et al. (1990) found that females engaged in more social play than males when they were monitored in same-sex groups, but these investigators observed no sex differences when youngsters were in mixed-sex groups (Pedersen, Glickman, Frank, & Beach, 1990). The results from the mixed-sex groups in captivity are most easily comparable to those from the current study, as both male and female cubs were present at communal dens in the wild. In a study on another female-dominated species, the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), Gould (1990) similarly found no sex differences in social play, but did observe dimorphic sex play (Table 3). The lack of sexual dimorphism in social play is intriguing given the sex-role reversal seen in both lemurs and spotted hyenas with regard to social dominance. A popular hypothesis for the function of social play in general, and rough-and-tumble play in particular, is that it serves as practice for aggressive encounters in adulthood (Maestripieri & Ross, 2004; Smith, 1982; Spinka, Newberry, & Bekoff, 2001). Therefore, the higher rates of rough-and-tumble play observed among the males of many other mammalian species have been attributed to the male’s greater need to practice for male-male combat in adulthood (Pellis, Field, Smith, & Pellis, 1997; Smith, 1982). Although overall rates of aggressive behavior are higher among adult female than male Crocuta (Szykman et al., 2003), both sexes engage in considerable aggression, particularly in the context of intrasexual interactions during feeding competition, and when members of neighboring clans encounter each other. Therefore, the absence of a sex difference in social play within female-dominated species such as spotted hyenas and ring-tailed lemurs is consistent with the hypothesis that social play provides practice for agonistic encounters in adulthood. However, sexual monorphism in social play has also been found in some other carnivore species studied in captivity, including cats, ferrets and various canids, all of which hunt terrestrial vertebrate prey (Table 3). Therefore, rough-and-tumble play among young carnivores may provide practice for skills necessary in pursuing and capturing prey as well as for adult combat; presumably, development of these skills would be just as important for females as for males in predatory species (Fagen, 1981). Copulation represents an unusually difficult challenge for the adult male spotted hyena (Drea et al., 2002). First, he must be tolerated by the large, socially dominant and highly aggressive adult female. Then he must insert his erect phallus into her flaccid one, which is positioned far more anteriorly than is the vaginal opening in other carnivore species. To achieve successful mating in adulthood, the male hyena may thus need practice earlier in life, and the communal den may offer the male his only opportunity for such practice. We found that male hyena cubs engaged in playmounting at rates considerably higher than those exhibited by females (Figure 3a).

Table 3.


Sex differences in play behavior in various mammal species. Female-dominated species are indicated in bold font.
Species Social / Roughand-Tumble Play Sex Play Source

Carnivores Spotted hyena (wild) Spotted hyena (captive)

M=F M<F (in same sex groups) M=F (in mixed sex groups) M=F


Present study

—— ——

(Pedersen, J., et al., 1990) (Barrett, P. & Bateson, P., 1978) (Bekoff, M., 1974) (Biben, M., 1982; Stockman et al., 1986) (Arnold, W. & Trillmich, F., 1985)

Domestic cat (Felis cattus) Coyotes, wolves and beagles (Canis spp. ) Ferret (Mustela furo) Galapagos fur seal (Arctocephalus galapagoensis) Rodents Belding’s ground squirrel (Spermophilus beldingi) Richardson’s ground squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonii) Golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) Rats (Rattus norvegicus) Ungulates Cuvier’s gazelle (Gazella cuvieri) Lambs (Ovis aries) Primates Japanese monkey (Macaca fuscata) Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) Humans (Homo sapiens)







(Nunes, S., et al., 1999; 2004) (Pasztor, T. J., et al., 2001) (Vieira, M. L., et al., 2005) (Pellis, S. M., 2002)


M>F —— ——



(Gomendio, M., 1988) (Orgeur, P., 1995)


—— M>F

(Koyama, N., 1985) (Goy, R. W., et al. 1988; Wallen, K., 1996) (Gould, L., 1990) (Pellegrini A. D. & Smith, P. K., 1998; Scott & Panksepp, 2003)


M>F ——

Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


Dimorphic sex play is seen among juveniles of a variety of mammalian species (Table 3), and these sex differences are promoted by differential exposure to testosterone earlier in development (Goy, 1996). Both male and female Crocuta cubs are exposed to androgens late in gestation (Licht et al., 1998; Yalcinkaya et al., 1993). Although prenatal treatment with antiandrogens can de-masculinize certain aspects of the genitalia and nervous system of the spotted hyena (Drea et al., 2002; Drea et al., 1998; Fenstemaker, Zup, Frank, Glickman, & Forger, 1999; Forger, Frank, Breedlove, & Glickman, 1996), it is not currently known whether, or to what extent, such treatment also affects the sexually dimorphic patterns of play observed here among young hyenas. Three mechanistic hypotheses might account for the patterns observed here. First, sex differences in play may be androgen-independent in this species, although this seems unlikely because it would make spotted hyenas unique among mammals in this regard. Second, it may be that the critical period for sensitivity of key neural substrates to testosterone does not occur during prenatal development in this species, but instead occurs during the first month after birth, when testosterone concentrations are higher in male than female cubs (Frank, Glickman, & Licht, 1991). Finally, there may be a sex difference in prenatal testosterone exposure or receptor density in this species that has not yet been detected. The rates of play-mounting observed here were affected by maternal rank as well as by offspring sex. Specifically, at 2–4 months of age, sons of high-ranking mothers mounted other cubs at higher rates than did sons of lower-ranking mothers. Interestingly, this pattern was apparent before the ages at which maternal rank begins to influence dominance relations among cubs (Holekamp & Smale, 1993). Mounting rates among young male Crocuta are correlated with maternal androgen concentrations late in gestation, and these, in turn, vary with maternal rank such that sons of highranking females are exposed to higher androgen concentrations in utero than are sons of low-ranking females (Dloniak, French, & Holekamp, 2006).

The patterns of development described here are consistent with the notion that some forms of play confer immediate benefits whereas other forms confer benefits later in life. Here it appeared that most benefits conferred to hyenas by romping and non-nutritive chewing were probably largely immediate, whereas those conferred by play-mounting were most likely delayed until later in life; furthermore, it appeared that social play might confer both immediate and delayed benefits. The five types of play we documented in hyenas pale in comparison to the broad array of human behaviors that fit the definition of play adopted here (from Bekoff & Byers 1981). Nevertheless, as appears to be true of hyena play, some forms of human play may help children cope with specific challenges encountered during one or more early stages of development, whereas others may have long-lasting consequences for individual welfare in adulthood. Just as social play may help young Crocuta cubs become integrated into the clan, there also appears to be a relationship between rough-and-tumble play in male children and measures of social competence (Pellegrini, 1995). Although it is



not known to what extent play reorganizes the individual’s behavioral phenotype, anecdotal evidence from humans indicates that early play deprivation is often closely associated with pathological behavior in adulthood (Brown, 1998). This suggests that play importantly affects structural or functional aspects of brain development that enhance the individual’s ability to cope effectively with environmental complexity in general, and with specific stressors in particular (Siviy, 1998). Finally, the patterns observed here highlight the fact that mammalian play must be heterogeneous in its regulatory mechanisms as well as in its form and function. We observed a great deal of variability among the different forms of hyena play in regard to their patterns of occurrence during development. This suggests that the genetic and neural substrates regulating expression of one form of play are not necessarily the same as those regulating expression of other forms. For example, we found that patterns of temporal variation differed strikingly between non-sexual social play and play mounting. Furthermore, we found that one of these two forms of social play, both of which are sexually dimorphic in many other mammals, is “masculinized” in female spotted hyenas (non-sexual social play), but the other (play mounting) is not. These data suggest that genetic mechanisms and neural circuits regulating developmental patterns differ between these two forms of social play. Although the specific motor patterns involved and the exact patterns of sex differences in hyena and human play are distinctly different, overall it appears that the general principles concerning the functions of play, as well as the heterogeneous nature of the mechanisms regulating its development and its expression, may be surprisingly similar in these two distantly related species.

We are grateful to the Kenyan Office of the President and the Narok County Council for permission to conduct this research, and to the Senior Warden of the Masai Mara National Reserve, the National Museum of Kenya and the Kenyan Wildlife Service for their cooperation and support. We also thank Danielle Harbin, Kim Wooten, Christine Mikkola, Suzanne LaCroix and Leah DeRose-Wilson for their help with data extraction from the original records. Kevin Theis, Joe Kolowski, and Heather Watts provided useful comments on this work. We thank Andrew McAdam for statistical advice. This research was funded by NSF grants IBN9309805, IBN9630667, IBN9906445, IBN0113170 and IOB0618022, as well as by a grant from the American Association of University Women.

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Ontogenetic Variation in the Play Behavior of Spotted Hyenas


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JDP FORUM Why Does Carnivore Play Matter?
Camille Ward
Department of Psychology University of Michigan rameses@umich.edu

Barbara B. Smuts
Department of Psychology University of Michigan bsmuts@umich.edu

The Tanner, Smale, and Holekamp study is the first to document the ontogeny of play behavior in wild spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). In this Forum, we will discuss why such studies are important as well as why play needs to be studied at different levels of detail. Studies like this one are surprisingly rare. Although play has been documented in all of the carnivore families, few systematic data on play exist for most of the more than 270 carnivore species, and information on play in the wild is even rarer. For example, we know that adult wolves and domestic dogs engage in social play, but we know very little about how common adult play in is in other social carnivores. We do not know if male carnivores engage in more rough and tumble play than females, as is the case in a number of other mammals (e.g., rats, horses, rhesus monkeys, humans). We also know little about when carnivore play begins, or whether players develop specific partner preferences, as they do in sable antelope, wild bison, rhesus monkeys, and domestic dogs. Lions have abundant opportunities to play when young because litters from different mothers are reared communally. Yet, despite many years of intensive study of wild lions, no systematic data on play are available. These lacunae reflect a long-standing bias among researchers as a whole (with notable exceptions) to consider play less important than more “serious” behaviors like hunting, mating or fighting. Perhaps this reflects a Western tendency to sharply differentiate work and play. Work is what we must do to make a living and survive; play is just something fun we do when we don’t have to work. Yet the very fact that play is so much fun should clue us in to its biological significance. Good play is as rewarding to many people as a fantastic meal or lustful sex. We love food and sex because they are necessary to survival and reproduction. Could the same be true for play? Perhaps, but scientists have not reached agreement about the functions of play. The most commonly proposed benefits have to do with practicing some skills needed later




(e.g., components of mating or fighting) or developing affiliative bonds useful now, later, or both. It’s easy to imagine how play might be beneficial, but it’s much harder to actually test these hypotheses. For example, suppose we are interested in the hypothesis that, among humans, juvenile social play is critical to successful social development. Experimental methods are of limited value in testing this hypothesis: We can’t intentionally deprive humans of opportunities to play, and even if we ignore the ethical problems with conducting such experiments among nonhumans, it is difficult and perhaps impossible to prevent young animals from playing without depriving them of social interactions in general. But if not through experiments, then how? We turn to the comparative method, a fundamental investigative approach in evolutionary biology. To use this method, we need information on various traits (like brain size or foraging behavior) from a wide variety of animals. When we compare the distribution of measures of these traits across a sample, an informative pattern may emerge. In fact, there exists a relationship between brain size and foraging behavior. Monkeys who feed on dispersed, hard-to-find resources have larger brains (in relation to body size) than monkeys who eat leaves and other foods that are abundant and easy to find. Similar results have been obtained for bats and carnivores. These results suggest that brain size is driven, at least in part, by the cognitive challenges of foraging. The comparative method is very powerful, but for it to work, we need relevant data for a sufficiently large number and variety of species. This is one reason why the Tanner et al. study is so important—and why, if we are to understand play, we need many more studies of play in carnivores and other species. Studying play (and other behaviors) in carnivores is important for a second, more specific, reason. Most attempts to model human social evolution are based on comparisons with nonhuman primates, because they are our closest relatives. However, several social carnivores (e.g., wolves, African wild dogs, lions, dholes) share a set of traits with human hunter-gatherers that do not occur in combination in any nonhuman primate species. These traits include cooperative hunting, cooperative protection of offspring, food-sharing with young by non-parents as well as parents, and cooperative territorial defense. For understanding certain human behaviors, comparisons with social carnivores may therefore prove as useful—or even more useful—than comparisons with other primates. Suppose we are interested in whether aspects of social play in boys reflect the importance to our ancestors of cooperative hunting by men. Specifically, consider the hypothesis that social play helps boys develop skills to enable them to coordinate their actions with those of other group members during a hunt. If we were thinking only about our own order, Primates, we could test this hypothesis by comparing the frequency of specific maneuvers during juvenile social play in nonhuman primates that hunt cooperatively with those which do not. We would not get very far, however, because simultaneous hunting by several individuals does not occur in most primates, and even where it has been observed (as in chimpanzees), debate exists as to whether the hunting is truly cooperative. Among carnivores, in contrast, many show cooperative hunting, whereas others hunt alone or show some combination of cooperative and solitary hunting. Interest-

Why Does Carnivore Play Matter?


ingly, closely related species can show very different behaviors. Lions in the African savanna, for example, are quintessential cooperative hunters, but as far as we know their closest relative, Asian tigers, hunt alone. A comparison of play behavior in tiger versus lion cubs might help identify play behaviors specific to cooperative hunters. Continuing with this example, among the 36 species in the dog family (canids), some species are obligate cooperative hunters (African wild dogs) or obligate solitary hunters (fennec foxes); others mainly hunt in packs (gray wolves, dholes); some hunt mostly alone (South American grey foxes, Ethiopian wolves, red foxes); and still others, such as coyotes, hunt both in packs and alone, depending on habitat and prey (this is also true in lions). If juvenile play behavior is important to adult hunting skills, certain aspects of play (for example, how often juveniles coordinate joint ambushes on a third party during play) should be more similar in wild dogs and wolves than they are, for example, in wolves and their close relatives, jackals, who usually hunt alone. Along similar lines, it would be interesting to know whether boys show coordinated maneuvers during play that more closely resemble play behaviors among cooperativelyhunting carnivores than among nonhuman primates. In short, these examples demonstrate that if we want to pursue an evolutionary perspective on human behavior, it is essential to include data from a wide variety of species, such as carnivores and primates, which have independently evolved particular patterns of social behavior and organization. A comparative approach can shed light on how similar selection pressures work on different taxa in broadly similar ways.

Two Ways of Studying Social Play
The study of social interactions, including play, can occur on two levels: the macro and micro levels. The macro level deals with overall group or population patterns, whereas the micro level deals with individual or dyadic variations and with the processes by which individuals or relationships change over time. Analyses aimed at examining the intricacies of play at both levels are essential to understanding the evolutionary processes responsible for shaping play behavior. In their very thorough analysis, Tanner et al. employ a macro level approach to examine the ontogeny of play in wild spotted hyenas. They found that rates of play by immature animals did not vary by sex or intra-litter rank of the cubs. However, cubs of high-ranking mothers played more than those of low- or mid-ranking mothers. This is an interesting result that is difficult to interpret using the comparative method, since rank-related differences in play among young animals have rarely been studied. Additionally, cubs played more when prey availability was low, in contrast to meerkat pups, who played more when their nutritional status was good. To the best of our knowledge, the current work on spotted hyenas and recent research on the development of play in meerkats (Suricata suricatta,) are the only studies that describe and quantify the development of play in wild social carnivores. We studied the ontogeny of play in another social carnivore—the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)—using both macro and micro level analyses. In what follows, we first compare some of our findings for domestic dogs with the data on wild hyena



cubs (macro level). Then we describe deviations from population patterns in some dyads of dogs (micro level). We collected data on four litters of dogs (three different purebred litters and one mixed-breed). In all cases, the dams of each litter were house dogs. Although the hyenas in the Tanner et al. study were from a wild population and dogs are a domesticated species, some researchers suggest that studying dogs living with humans is akin to studying them in their natural habitat. Data from hyenas were presented for cubs from 8–12 weeks of age, and our data from the dogs were based on puppies between 3–40 weeks old. There were both similarities and differences between hyena and dog social play. In wild hyenas, males engaged in more play mounting than females, but we found no such sex differences in mounting within litters of dogs. Interestingly, play mounting in hyenas vanished at approximately 12 months of age in females and 16 months of age in males, but some male and female dogs continue to mount well into adulthood. It would be especially interesting to have data on sex differences and the development of play mounting in other social carnivores in which it occurs to be able to make crossspecies comparisons. In hyenas, males and females engaged in social play at roughly equal rates, and this was also true for dogs up until about 6 months of age. At 6 months, male dogs initiated play more often with other males than with females. However, these data on rates of play between the two species are only roughly comparable because Tanner et al. measured social play for hyenas based on rates of male and female play regardless of who initiated, and we measured play based on individual rates of initiation by sex and dyadic composition (i.e., female-female, male-male, female-male). The findings described above were consistent in different puppy litters, but some dyads diverged from typical patterns. One example concerns the extent to which play is “fair.” Some researchers have proposed that for a dyad to maintain play over time, winning and losing roles must be more or less equal (e.g., puppies take turns being in the “top dog” position); this is called the “50:50” rule. Other researchers have argued that during play-fighting, both animals usually “play to win,” implying that significant asymmetry in roles reflects individual differences in ability or motivation to win. In the puppies overall, winning and losing roles within dyads deviated from 50:50, which is more consistent with the play-to-win hypothesis (we found the same among dyads of unrelated adult dogs). Some clear exceptions, occurred, however. Between 3–23 weeks of age, in one dyad of mixed puppies, both individuals won exactly 50% of play bouts, and a second dyad of Labrador retrievers adopted nearly equal roles (54 vs. 46% of wins.). The question then becomes why, during play, do some dyads end up with roughly equal wins and losses, whereas in the majority of dyads, one pup wins much of the time? Given the intensity of female-female competition within hyenas and the unusual pattern of female dominance over males, it would be very interesting to test the 50:50 rule for hyena playmates. The overall tendency for puppies to behave as if playing to win went one step further for puppies between 27–40 weeks of age. During this time, littermates initiated play more often with individuals that they could dominate in the play context. However, in one dyad that consisted of two females, both initiated play with each other

Why Does Carnivore Play Matter?


more often than they initiated with any of their other littermates (i.e., they were each others’ preferred play partners), even though their play was completely asymmetrical: Blue Puppy won 100% of play encounters with her sister, Pink Puppy. (Among adult dogs, we also observed dyads characterized by frequent play initiations by a dog who always lost to that partner.) Why did Pink Puppy choose to initiate play with a littermate who dominated her in 100% of all play encounters? In standard statistical analyses documenting behavioral patterns by category (e.g., as a function of age, sex, or perhaps experimental treatment), variation is treated as noise, which is appropriate to what we call the macro level approach. However, new and interesting questions emerge when we also examine tendencies specific to certain individuals or relationships. This micro level approach opens the door to some exciting new possibilities for understanding both non-human and human-animal relationships. Studying behavior at the level of relationships is not new but it remains a minority approach, no doubt in part because it is typically more time-consuming. However, the relative scarcity of relationship-centered research also reflects the fact that methods and concepts in the behavioral sciences have largely been developed to address macro level questions. More recently, the study of social relationships has been enriched by new theories and methods developed by systems researchers—that is, scientists who study phenomena in terms of whole systems, rather than focusing mainly on the parts. (In the examples we’ve discussed above, the system is the dyadic relationship, although it is also essential to examine systems at higher levels, such as triads and groups). This approach, often termed dynamic systems theory, views social relationships as complex systems that change over time. From this perspective, behavioral interactions are often best understood not as linear alternating actionreactions chains, but rather in terms of bidirectional causation, feedback loops, and emergent patterns at the relationship level (e.g., such as degree of symmetry/asymmetry in play roles). Dynamic systems theory has been used primarily to study human relationships, but its value in studying relationships in other animals is becoming increasingly realized. Case studies are at the heart of the dynamic systems approach to understanding social relationships. We will illustrate the value of a case-study approach by examining the play relationship between two dogs who live with the first author. Acorn was a 6 year-old, 60 lb. female Doberman pincher when Sage, a male German shepherd, joined the household at 7 weeks, 12 lbs. They played from the start. Sage is now 3 years old and weighs 90 lbs. The two play every day, and Acorn is clearly in control of their play relationship. During play, she often self-handicaps by throwing herself on her back in front of Sage to entice him to move towards her. Sometimes he rushes in and takes advantage of her down position by biting at her neck or body. When he does this, she often leaps up and snarls while showing her teeth, snaps at him, and walks into him, forcing him to move backwards. They often repeat this process a number of times within a play bout. An observer meeting these two dogs for the first time would immediately be struck by the way Acorn, 30 lbs. lighter and past her prime, totally dominates Sage during play (as well as in other contexts). However, their behaviors become understandable



given their history. From the day Sage arrived, Acorn ruled, both in and out of the play context, by showing her teeth at Sage, standing over him, taking objects from him, etc. She never harmed him, but she was relentless in making sure he knew who was boss. In other words, Acorn trained Sage to defer to her in many different situations, and she trained him well. When Acorn and Sage play, we see lots of growling, body slamming, and other forceful behaviors. To the untrained eye, their play might look like fighting but, following Gregory Bateson, we think of their play as a kind of metacommunication. Metacommunication is communication about other communication; it often occurs right before or after an action that could be interpreted in different ways. Examples include humans smiling and changing tone of voice when teasing someone in order to show that they are joking or the dramatic play signals (e.g., the canine play bow) shown in many species that indicate that whatever follows is “just play.” We propose that entire play bouts or sequences of play bouts over time can function as metacommunication about the playing animals’ relationships. In the case of Acorn and Sage, Acorn appears to be reminding Sage over and over that she is top dog, and Sage, by always deferring, seems to acknowledge this asymmetry (both inside and outside of play). It appears as if the rules of their relationship outside of play were established and continue to be maintained through play fighting. By using play and other special contexts (such as greetings, courtship, or ritualized fighting) to communicate about relationships, animals can convey intentions and emotions and negotiate and re-negotiate the terms of a relationship while minimizing the risk of injury or misunderstanding. Through such interactions the partners co-create a sort of virtual reality that is definitely meaningful but not quite real in the same way that, say, fighting or mating is. Sometimes behaviors acceptable during play would never be tolerated outside of play. For example, during play, Sage can force Acorn to the ground or do a “chin over” (i.e., he puts the underside of his chin over the top of Acorn’s neck). He has never directed either of these dominance-related behaviors to Acorn outside of the play context, but during play, the rules of their relationship are more relaxed and flexible. Such virtual reality for playing dogs may create an experience that is similar to the experience teenagers get hooked on when they hunt down the villain in video games or to children’s experiences when they ask their parents to “be the monster” or go visit scary haunted houses around Halloween. In all of these scenarios, individuals can feel intense emotions, practice various strategies, and communicate about their relationships in a safe context. Of course, play fighting in dogs could always escalate into a real fight, but in our research experience, this very rarely happens between well-socialized dogs who are familiar with each other and get along in a non-play context. Perhaps experiences like play, where things happen that do not often occur during ordinary times, are the original virtual realities—ancient creations that may convey adaptive advantages in both humans and other animals. In some cases, behaviors shown during play also occur outside of play, but the meaning of the behavior changes in different contexts. For example, when playing with Sage, Acorn will sometimes growl or snap at him, but she may follow that up with a play bow or by turning her back to him and shaking her head from side-to-side

Why Does Carnivore Play Matter?


(a somewhat idiosyncratic play signal not shown by all dogs). Play typically continues despite the growls and snarls. However, Acorn also growls at Sage outside of play. In one incident, she was on the bed resting. Sage entered the room, and Acorn growled at him. This growl, unlike her play growl, was deep and menacing. Her body was stiff, and her stare was hard and directly focused at Sage. Sage took one look at Acorn and knew this was not play. He scurried out of the room with his body low to the ground and his ears pinned completely back against his head. Both his body and ear positions indicated slight fear and submission. Although Acorn and Sage have a specific play relationship that could change through time, Sage has a different play relationship with other dogs. For example, Sage plays with another male dog (Sam) frequently, and he tends to be much more forceful and domineering in his play style—pinning the other dog to the ground over and over again. Sage plays one way with Acorn and a completely different way with Sam. Given this, the nature of Sage’s play can only be truly defined at the relationship or dyadic level. We are not suggesting that an analysis of play or any other social behavior at the micro level should replace data collected at the macro level. However, we do think that micro level analyses should be used alongside macro level, population-based studies to enrich our understanding of socio-biological behavioral processes and take into account interesting variation at the relationship level. Additionally, micro-level cross-species comparisons of social play could increase our understanding of the interplay between cognitive and emotional skills during development. Cross-species comparisons of rough-and-tumble play may prove especially interesting, since in this context actions are the primary medium of communication in humans and nonhumans alike. Such comparisons could help us to understand why evolution has maintained in children the desire for such intimate, physical engagement, and what children might lose if opportunities for this kind of play continue to diminish. We hope to see more studies that focus on the development of social play in young animals in their natural habitats, including those who populate the playground and schoolyard.

Further Readings
Bateson, P. (1981). Steps to an ecology of mind. New York: Ballantine Books. Bauer, E. B. & Smuts, B. B. (2007). Cooperation and competition during dyadic play in domestic dogs, Canis familiaris. Animal Behaviour, 73, 489–499. Bekoff, M. (2004). Wild justice, cooperation, and fair play: Minding manners, being nice, and feeling good. In R. W. Sussman & A. R. Chapman (Eds.), The origins and nature of sociality (pp. 53–80). New York: Aldine de Gruyter. Burkhardt, G. M. (2005). The genesis of animal play: Testing the limits. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Fogel, A. (2006). Dynamic systems research on interindividual communication: The transformation of meaning. The Journal of Developmental Processes, 1, 7–30. Gittleman, J. L. (1986). Carnivore brain size, behavioral ecology, and phylogeny. Journal of Mammalogy, 67, 23–36. Harvey, P. H., & Purvis, A. (1991). Comparative methods for explaining adaptations. Nature, 351, 619–624.



Miklósi, A., Topál, J., & Csányi, V. (2007). Big thoughts in small brains? Dogs as a model for understanding human social cognition. Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology, 18, 467–471. Schaller, G. B., & Lowther, G. R. (1969). The relevance of carnivore behavior to the study of early hominids. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 25, 307–341. Sharpe, L. L. (2003). Play does not enhance social cohesion in a cooperative mammal. Animal Behaviour, 20, 551–558. Sillero-Zubiri, C., Hoffmann, M., & Macdonald, D. W. (Eds.). (2004). Canids: Foxes, wolves, jackals and dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN. Ward, C. (2007). Cognition and the development of social cognition in the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris). Doctoral dissertation awaiting DAI number, University of Michigan. Ward, C., &, Smuts, B. B. (in preparation). Partner preferences and asymmetries in social play among domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) littermates. Watanabe, J. M., & Smuts, B. B. (2004). Cooperation, commitment, and communication in the evolution of human sociality. In R. W. Sussman & A. R. Chapman (Eds.), The origins and nature of sociality (pp. 288–309). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation: Evidence of Complex Dynamics of Developmental Processes
Zheng Yan
Educational and Counseling Psychology School of Education University at Albany, SUNY zyan@uamail.albany.edu

Kurt Fischer
Mind, Brain, & Education Program Harvard Graduate School of Education Harvard University kurt_fischer@gse.harvard.edu

Abstract: An important but challenging task is to understand microdevelopmental variations in learning and developmental processes—how patterns of performance change over short time periods with growing skill and knowledge or with failure to learn. This study analyzed microdevelopmental variations in learning a basic computing skill. Based on 119 microdevelopmental episodes of 30 students learning a computer program in four sessions over one semester, we used both microdevelopmental trajectories for describing each individual’s variations in performance and a dynamic systems approach for interpreting pattern emergence and pattern transition of these variations. The results of the study suggest that each individual’s variations of microdevelopment are pervasive and complex, showing three basic patterns of microdevelopmental variation—unstable, fluctuating, and stable—and four basic trends in change of microdevelopment variation—disorganization, regression, improvement, and stabilization. These basic patterns and trends provide a dynamic picture of developmental processes as pattern emergence and pattern transition in variation rather than as a ladder-like linear progression.

Microdevelopmental variation can be considered the common, spontaneous fluctuation of people’s performance within a short period of time. It has been extensively reported in the microdevelopmental literature for the past ten years (e.g., Hsu & Fogel, 2003; Granott & Parziale, 2002; Kuhn, Gracia-Mila, Zohar, & Anderson, 1995; Siegler,




1994, 2006; Yan & Fischer, 2002). Among existing microdevelopmental studies, strong consistency exists in approaches to collecting microdevelopmental data by intensively assessing psychological changes over a short period of time (Kuhn, 1995; Siegler, 1995, 2006). In contrast, significant divergence exists in approaches to analyzing microdevelopmental data by using different units of analysis (Fogel, 2006; Granott, 1998; Molenaar & Valsiner, 2005; Siegler, 1987) and different frameworks of analysis (Fischer & Bidell, 2006; Lavelli, Pantoja, Hsu, Messinger, & Fogel, 2004; van Geert, 1998). As a result, this divergence in data analysis leads toward diverse and even contradictory descriptions and interpretations of microdevelopmental variations. The present study was intended to use individual microdevelopmental trajectory (Yan & Fischer, 2002) as the unit of analysis and dynamic skill approach (Fischer & Bidell, 2006) as the framework of analysis to examine microdevelopmental variations. We hope to provide empirical evidence of the complex dynamics of developmental processes and to advance the current understanding of developmental variability in the organization and growth of human activities in context, a central task of dynamic skill theory.

Unit of Analysis for Describing Microdevelopmental Variations
The issue of the unit of analysis in the history of developmental science can be traced back at least to William Stern’s concept of the person as a complex unit (for a review, see Kreppner, 1992). For many years, both learning curves and growth curves have been used to represent and analyze group-based linear trends of psychological change over time (e.g., Shock, 1951; Thorndike, 1913, Thurstone, 1919). In the 1950s, several methodologists questioned the way of averaging learning curves as the unit of analysis to study development (e.g., Bahrick, Fitts, & Briggs, 1957; Estes, 1956; Sidman, 1952). Starting from the 1970s, longitudinal methodologists further challenged the conventional treatment of averaging longitudinal data and proposed three units of analysis, intra-individual variability (relatively rapid and reversible changes), intraindividual changes (relatively stable developmental changes), and inter-individual differences (highly stable changes even over a long time period) (Baltes, Reese, & Nesselroade, 1977; Nesselroade, 1991, 2001; Nesselroade & Baltes, 1979; Nesselroade & Molenaar, 2003). Despite theoretical advances in the unit of analysis, however, averaging has been and still is one of the most common statistical methods used in empirical behavioral research (Brown & Heathcote, 2003). In existing microdevelopmental research, the unit of analysis generally falls into one of three types on the basis of how microdevelopmental data are aggregated: double-aggregated microdevelopmental trends that aggregate data across both individuals and trials, single-aggregated microdevelopmental trends that aggregate data across either trials or individuals, and non-aggregated microdevelopmental trajectories in which no aggregation is used across individuals or trials. Each unit of analysis serves different research purposes in studying microdevelopmental variations, accompanied by different data analysis approaches. The most frequently used basic unit of analysis in microdevelopmental research is the double-aggregated microdevelopmental trend (e.g., Goldin-Meadow & Alibali,

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation


2002; Kuhn, Gracia-Mila, Zohar, & Anderson, 1995; Miller & Aloise-Young, 1995; Robinwitz, Grant, Howe, & Walsh, 1994; Schlagmüller & Schneider, 2002). This type of microdevelopmental study primarily focuses on group-based trends and normally uses parameters (e.g., group mean score or group average percent) as the basic unit of analysis that aggregates both performance sequences (the first aggregation) and participating individuals (the second aggregation) to demonstrate important trends among different groups. Schlagmüller and Schneider (2002), for example, examined how third and fourth graders acquired an organizational memory strategy in an experimental study. The microdevelopmental data were collected based on 22 children’s performance of sorting and recalling 20 picture cards over nine weekly sessions. In one of a series of subsequent group-based data analyses, group mean recall was estimated by aggregating the performance on the 20 picture cards (the first aggregation) across 22 individuals (the second aggregation). On the basis of the group mean recall as the basic unit of analysis, Mann-Whitney tests were conducted and trend plots were constructed to illustrate trends of mean recall between two groups, those with or without using a sorting strategy, over the nine sessions (see Schlagmüller & Schneider, 2002, Figure 2, p.306). The findings of this analysis showed differences in microdevelopmental trends between two groups of children who sorted items according to categories and children who did not sort, but they failed to reveal both intra-individual performances and inter-individual differences An increasing number of microdevelopmental studies use the single-aggregated microdevelopmental trends as the basic unit of analysis (e.g., Corbetta & Thelen, 1996; de Weerth, van Geert, & Hoijtink, 1999; de Weerth, van Geert, 2002; Hsu & Fogel, 2003; Spencer, Vereijken, Diedrich, & Thelen, 2000; Thelen, Corbetta, & Spencer, 1996; Vereijken & Thelen, 1997). For example, Thelen and her associates (Thelen, Corbetta, & Spencer, 1996) used single-aggregated microdevelopmental trends as the basic unit of analysis to study how infants’ reaching behaviors developed in their first year. The microdevelopmental data were collected based on four infants’ weekly performance on a sequence of trials for approximately 25 weeks. In the data analysis, individual average speed was estimated by aggregating the weekly reaching performance on the trial sequences for each infant. Using the weekly individual average speed as the basic unit of analysis, individual developmental trends of four infants were constructed to examine each infant’s development of reaching skills (see Thelen, Corbetta, & Spencer, 1996, Figures 1, 2, 3, & 4, pp. 1065, 1068, 1070, & 1073, respectively). They found that infants’ reaching movements initially were jerky and tortuous and then became smother and straighter; however, this improvement was actually nonlinear with plateaus and regressions for each infant as well as large variations among the four infants, revealing complex patterns in microdevelopmental variations. Different from the Thelen study focusing on individual-based microdevelopmental trends with cross-trial aggregation, a small number of microdevelopmental studies have focused on non-aggregated microdevelopmental trajectories as the basic unit of analysis (e.g., Cooney & Troyer, 1994; Granott, 2002; Parziale, 1997; Yan & Fischer, 2002). That is, these studies have directly examined each individual’s performance sequences without across-individual or across-trial aggregation. For example, Granott



and her collaborators (Fischer & Granott, 1995; Granott, 2002) studied how two adult learners, as a pair, came to understand a computer robot. The microdevelopmental data were collected based on this pair’s performance sequence over 30 minutes. In the data analysis, individual knowledge level was assessed for these two adults’ understanding of the robot on the performance sequences. On the basis of changes of individual knowledge level over time, individual microdevelopmental trajectories were constructed as the basic unit of analysis to examine each pair’s changes in understanding of the robot over 200 interchanges (see Granott, 2002, Figure 8.2, p. 225). Granott observed complex recurring progression-regression sequences: The two collaborating students started with a very low level of performance and then gradually built up to a relatively high level of performance. However, when they encountered a new feature of the robot or the situation, their performance collapsed back abruptly to a low level, and then they began to rebuild their knowledge again. In the study, many complex patterns of microdevelopmental variations were observed. Both the Thelen study and the Granott study demonstrate the strength of focusing on individual-based changes rather than group-based changes. These methods can analyze individual-based trends (the Thelen study) or individual-based trajectories (the Granott study) to reveal unusually complex patterns in microdevelopmental variation. However, due to the difficulty of collecting this type of highly dense data, these and similar studies have used only a small number of subjects, thus missing the chance of examining a wide spectrum of microdevelopmental variations of different learners and limiting the generalizability of the findings (e.g., four infants in Thelen, Corbetta, & Spencer, 1996; four infants in de Weerth, van Geert, & Hoijtink, 1999; eight infants in Vereijken & Thelen, 1997; eight children in Gelman, Romo, & Francis, 2002). In addition to the small sample size, these studies normally take place over a short time span within one single session (e.g., 40 minutes in Granott, 2002; 60 minutes in Yan & Fischer, 2002) and consequently might miss opportunities for observing and capturing meaningful pattern changes if these changes were to occur across multiple sessions over a longer period of time (Granott, 2002; Karmiloff-Smith, 1979; Lee & Karmiloff-Smith, 2002; Lewis, 2002; Siegler & Svetina, 2002).

Analytic Framework for Interpreting Microdevelopment Variations
There are two analytic frameworks for conceptualizing microdevelopmental variations. A traditional analytic framework considers microdevelopment a process of linear progress moving from lower levels to higher ones, and attempts to reduce complexity observed in microdevelopmental variations into certain statistical parameters so that linear statistics can handle the data analysis. In contrast, a dynamic systems approach conceptualizes microdevelopmental variations as true manifestations of an underlying dynamic system and strives to undercover dynamic patterns from complex microdevelopmental variations (e.g., Fischer & Bidell, 1998; Lavelli, Pantoja, Hsu, Messinger, & Fogel, 2004; Fogel, 2006; Siegler, 2006; Thelen & Corbetta, 2002; Thelen & Smith, 2006; van Geert, 1991, 1994, 1998).

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation


Specifically, there are two strengths of the dynamic systems approach for interpreting microdevelopmental variations. First, in addition to the simple linear trajectory, the dynamic systems approach has the capacity to entertain a large variety of complex nonlinear trajectories, including logistic growth trajectories, stage-wise discontinuous trajectories, S-shaped curves, U-shaped curves, and various combinations of these forms (e.g., Case & Okamoto, 1996; Fischer & Bidell, 2006; van Geert, 1991, 1994, 1998). It can further be used to identify dynamic patterns behind various complex trajectories. Second, the dynamic systems approach considers development as a process of transforming from one dynamic pattern to another in diverse directions rather than a process of simple linear progress moving from lower static levels to higher ones in a simple forward direction. It can uncover essential mechanisms that underlie various complex patterns and explain how one dynamic pattern can be transformed into another when important elements in a dynamic system interact with each other in an evolving manner. For example, van Geert (1998) built a dynamic growth model based on classic Piagetian and Vygotskian theories and examined a fundamental developmental mechanism that contributes to dynamic transition among various developmental patterns, such as continuous and discontinuous changes, abrupt changes, and microdevelopmental transitions. To further understand the true complexity and dynamics of microdevelopmental variation, the present study (a) used the non-aggregated microdevelopmental trajectory as the basic unit of analysis to represent microdevelopmental variations, (b) applied dynamic systems theory as the primary conceptual framework to analyze the complex patterns of microdevelopmental variations, (c) recruited a relatively large number of participants and examined more than 100 trajectories to understand how patterns of microdevelopmental variation emerged and changed over a short period of time, (d) covered a longer time span to examine each student’s performance on four projects over one semester, and (e) applied typological analysis to analyze pattern emergence and pattern transition in microdevelopmental variations. The study focused on two research questions: (1) What patterns of variations in cognitive microdevelopment emerged over a short period of time? (2) How did these microdevelopmental variation patterns change over a relatively longer period time? According to the dynamic skill theory, complex microdevelopmental variations over both a short term and a relatively longer term should be observed and certain dynamic patterns should emerge and evolve.

Method Participants
Thirty students who enrolled in an introductory statistics course at a graduate school in the northeastern US participated in the study voluntarily. Among them were 9 males and 21 females, 63% of whom were master’s students and 37% doctoral students.



These students were very diverse in terms of prior educational training, professional background, statistical knowledge, and computer experience. Their ages ranged from approximately 20 years to 40 years.

The task used in the study was based on actual homework assignments using SAS, a widely used statistical software program, to analyze data. Students were required to complete four SAS projects as homework assignments with an interval of approximately one month between the projects over one semester. Normally, it takes seven basic steps to finish a SAS project: creating a DAT file, creating a SAS file, creating a COM file, executing the COM file, examining the LOG file, checking the LIS file, and finally, printing the LOG file. The seven-step sequence had to be followed in all four SAS projects in order to obtain the data analysis results on the computer network system. The present study focused on how each student proceeded with this seven-step basic sequence using SAS rather than on various statistical analysis procedures (e.g., conducting a t-test or a χ2-test). Consequently, focusing on the same SAS basic sequence across different projects made it possible to analyze students’ microdevelopment in learning the same basic SAS procedure across four different projects while minimizing the potential for a practice effect on students due to repeated measures over time (Diggle, Liang, & Zegger, 1994; Nesselroade & Baltes, 1979; Singer & Willet, 2003). In the study, students must follow the basic procedure to create a data file (the DAT file) for each of the four projects, but each time they had different data files (e.g., college admissions data or final exam data) rather than repeatedly using the same data file. In the study, participants first received a brief introduction to the use of the SAS program with one step-by-step demonstration by the course instructor at the beginning of the course. They then came to a research laboratory four times during the semester and worked on the four SAS projects with a teaching assistant in a one-to-one interactive context. All participants used the same computer that was set up to function as a terminal of the computer network system. Each SAS session lasted approximately one hour. During each session, when students encountered difficulties in executing the seven-step sequence, the teaching assistant offered appropriate help so that they were able to continue and finish their own SAS projects. The help that the teaching assistant provided was carefully controlled according to two basic rules: (a) the helper only answered the questions each student asked during his or her work with SAS, and (b) the helper did not provide extra intervention or initiate lengthy instruction beyond answering the student’s question. These rules were intended to maximize the opportunity for observing authentic performance while helping students learn SAS.

The Coding System
This study used the Microdevelopmental Scale for Assessing Cognitive Complexity of Performance in Learning SAS in a Network System (Yan, 1998, 2000) to code

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation


students’ performance according to the cognitive complexity of their SAS performances in context. This microdevelopmental scale was developed based on the hierarchical complexity scale in dynamic skill theory (Fischer, 1980; Fischer & Bidell, 2006; Fischer, Yan, & Stewart, 2003), which is supported by extensive empirical evidence of scaling (e.g., Dawson, 2003; Dawson & Wilson, 2004; Fischer & Bidell, 2006). Similar scales have been developed and used successfully in several microdevelopmental studies (e.g., Bidell, 1990; Bidell & Fischer, 1994; Granott, 1993, 2002; Parziale, 1997, 2002; Schwartz, 2000; Schwartz & Sadler, in press). As shown in Table 1, the scale has six different levels of cognitive complexity with several transitional sub-levels within each level. Whenever a breakdown of a student’s execution of the seven-step sequence occurs, the cognitive complexity of the student’s performance is analyzed and coded. Generally speaking, levels of performance go from typing skills as the lowest performance level, to the production of one meaningful unit of a computer command, one complete command statement, one logic command sequence, a coherent multi-sequence flow, and finally to the highest level of fluent navigation through innovative pathways within computer systems. For instance, when a student types “EDIT” as a regular English word after the $ prompt but does not know the particular meaning of EDIT in the VMS computer operating system (creating and opening a new file rather than reopening and editing an existing file), the cognitive complexity of this performance is coded at the level of sensory-motor systems (capable of typing EDIT, but does not know the particular meaning of EDIT) and assigned a score of 3. If a student types “EDIT” and shows that he or she understands EDIT as a command for creating and opening a new file, the cognitive complexity of this performance is considered higher than the previous performance, and is coded at the level of single representational sets (capable of understanding only one component of a computer command) and assigned a score of 4. If a student types “EDIT PROJECT1.SAS” and knows the logical relationship between EDIT as a system command and PROJECT1.SAS as a file name, then the cognitive complexity of this performance is considered even higher than the previous two, and is coded at the level of representational mappings (capable of understanding the relation between two major components of a computer command) and assigned a score of 5. When students’ flow of executing the seven-step sequence was interrupted, the teaching assistant offered timely help so that students could continue their work with SAS. The teaching assistant’s help to students was coded on the same scale, from lower levels of help (e.g., explaining one command, TYPE) to the higher ones (e.g., explaining two sequentially ordered statements, from creating a COM file to executing the COM file). Note that the teaching assistance’s help could be at a level lower than that of students’ breakdowns (the scaffolding of “pushing,” as was the most frequent case in the study) or higher than that of students’ breakdowns (the scaffolding of “pulling,” in some cases). A second rater independently coded 20% of the data and the Cohen’s Kappa statistic was 0.94. According to Bakeman and Gottman’s (1997) criteria, the interrater agreement for the scale is considered excellent. This is generally consistent with interrater agreement reported in other microdevelopmental studies (e.g., Bidell, 1990; Granott, 1993; Parziale, 1997; Schwartz, 2000).



Table 1. Microdevelopmental Scale for Assessing Cognitive Complexity of Performance in Learning SAS in a Network System
Code SM3 Description LEVEL OF SENSORY-MOTOR SYSTEMS Definition A learner can coordinate various pairs of keyboard movements and screen moves simultaneously and shows competent typing skills. This is the lowest performance observed in the study. Example: Typing competently without understanding A student read the course handout and quickly typed INFILE PART2. This example shows that this learner is competent at typing the words, but he simply copied the exact words from an example given by the instructor. He did not know that the exact meaning of PART2 was a demonstrating data file the teacher used in the class rather than the data file the student created a few minutes ago for himself. The correct file name is MOM2 instead of PART2. RP1 LEVEL OF SYSTEMS OF SENSORY-MOTOR SYSTEMS OR LEVEL OF SINGLE REPRESENTATIONAL SETS Definition A learner can independently coordinate two systems, the type-look action system and the request-execution semantic system simultaneously. This formulates a basic unit of executable instruction, such as a VMS command or a SAS file. Example 1: A typical VMS command A student said, “OK, I want to change the SAS file,” and then started to type EDIT after the $ prompt. In this example, the student intercoordinated the type-look action system (typing EDIT) and the request-execution semantic system (changing the SAS file) and produced a VMS command EDIT. This student was not just typing a string of letters E-D-I-T, but was actually producing one of the basic commands in the VMS operating system. Example 2: Compounding SAS file components A student said, “Oh, I have to change the file,” and then typed ASSIGN2.SAS. In this example, the student understood well that the SAS file includes a file name, ASSIGN2, and a file type, SAS. The student integrated these two components into a more complex but integrated unit, a complete SAS file. RP2 LEVEL OF REPRESENTATIONAL MAPPINGS Definition A learner can coordinate a specific VMS command with a specific SAS file to create a complete instruction for execution. Example 1: A typical SAS statement After receiving the notification from the system, a student typed EDIT ASSIGN.LOG. In this example, the student coordinated a system command, EDIT, with a SAS file, ASSIGN2.LOG, and produced a proper instruction in order to view the LOG file. A complete instruction is the basic unit in a SAS programming sequence. Example 2: Not knowing about the next step After creating and checking a SAS file, a student read the class handout and said, “The next step is to create a . . . COM file.” In this example, the student figured out the logic sequence between having a SAS file and having a COM file, but did not yet show how to make this sequence executable, a skill requiring intercoordinating the two steps simultaneously. This is a typical “next step problem.” 5.0 4.0 3.0 Score 3.0





Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation Table 1. Continued
Code RP3 Description LEVEL OF REPRESENTATIONAL SYSTEMS Definition A learner can coordinate a variety of system commands with a variety of SAS files according to both the context and the syntax, e.g., the DIR command requires no SAS file, the EDIT command needs one SAS file, and the COPY command demands two SAS files. This results in an intended executable sequence with clear logic and behavioral evidence. Example 1: A typical sequence Within a few seconds, as a student first typed EDIT ASSIGN2.DAT and then quickly typed EDIT ASSIGN2.SAS. In this example, the student coordinated two executable instructions and built an adjacent sequence. Example 2: Compounding with more components After creating three files, SURVEY.DAT, SURVEY.SAS, and SURVEY.COM, a student typed DIR SURVEY.* In this example, this student not only showed clear knowledge about the logic sequence, but also more knowledge about using the DIR command to search for specific files. AB1 LEVEL OF SYSTEMS OF REPRESENTATIONAL SYSTEMS, WHICH IS ALSO LEVEL OF SINGLE ABSTRACT SETS Definition A learner can coordinate two systems, the VMS-SAS system and the computer conceptual system, to reach a good understanding of the hierarchical relationship between an operating system and an application. This leads to both fluent sequential flows in constructing various VMS commands and different SAS files and clear conceptual understanding of the VMS-SAS system architecture. Example 1: A sound understanding of the VMS-SAS system To answer a question, “What does the dollar sign mean to you?” a student replied, “It tells me what mode I am in, for example, I can type MAIL. It is a command shell.” Here, this student correctly used the computer concept of command shell to specify the function of the dollar sign as the VMS system prompt. This understanding was associated with the student’s fluent sequential flow in using VMS commands and SAS files. Example 2: Compounding with SAS/VMS features When talking about processing the COM file, a student said, “We have to have a COM file. Give it to the sever to run it.” Here, this student correctly used the concept of server to explain the particular function of a COM file in the VMS-SAS system. This understanding was associated with this student’s rather fluent sequential flow in using VMS commands and SAS files. AB2 LEVEL OF ABSTRACT MAPPINGS Definition A learner can coordinate the VMS-SAS system with the EVE-SAS system to achieve a strong conceptual understanding of the architecture of these two systems. This leads to flexible and innovative pathways in navigating among the systems and fluent navigation skills in the systems. Example: Navigating within EVE editor After reading one COM file, unlike most students’ efforts to close the file, a student with a professional programming background pressed the CTRL key and the Z key to bring up a prompt of COMMAND and then typed OPEN ASSIGN4.COM to open another COM file. This creative way of moving from one system to another system without even closing previous files reveals the student’s solid understanding of the architecture among VMS, SAS, and EVE systems and her/his strong skill of navigating among different systems.


Score 6.0










Data Analysis
The study used the non-aggregated microdevelopmental trajectory as the basic unit of analysis for analyzing microdevelopmental variations. Specifically, the microdevelopmental trajectories without aggregation across trials or individuals were plotted by using microdevelopmental levels based on the microdevelopmental scale as the Y-axis and microdevelopmental steps based on students’ performance, such as typing one file name or one SAS command, as the X-axis. In addition, the frequency and the level of help offered by the teaching assistant were included in the trajectory as an inherent part of the interactions between the student and the teaching assistant. Thus, a microdevelopmental trajectory can be considered a series of cognitive footprints of how an individual student’s level varies over multiple steps in completing a SAS project with one-to-one assistance. To answer the first research question of what patterns of microdevelopmental variations emerges over a SAS project, 120 microdevelopmental trajectories based on all the performance sequences of 30 students on four projects were plotted and a typological analysis was used for describing patterns of the microdevelopmental variations in each individual’s microdevelopmental trajectories. This analysis was based on comparison and classification among individual microdevelopmental trajectories rather than aggregation of means across trials and individuals. In a sense, this analysis is analogous to a conventional heart examination where a doctor analyzes a group of patients’ heart problems with electrocardiography (ECG) that records a series of electrical waves during each beat of the heart. The first task is to run an ECG on each patient and print out all ECG diagrams that display the heart dynamics of each patient. The doctor then examines complex patterns of ECG diagrams for each patient to diagnose what typical heart problems each patient might have. To answer the second research question of how the microdevelopmental variation patterns change across four SAS learning sessions, 30 microdevelopmental trends were first plotted. Since each student completed a total of four SAS projects that could be viewed as four waves in a multi-wave longitudinal study (Willett, 1997), students’ trajectories over four projects represented four-wave microdevelopmental trends. A typological analysis was then conducted to examine whether the patterns of microdevelopmental variation changed over time. Building on the above example, this is analogous to a doctor’s analysis of a patient’s four ECG diagrams taken at the four points in time to investigate whether the patient recovers over time under a particular medical treatment.

Results Patterns of Microdevelopmental Variations Within One Project
On the basis of 30 students’ performance on four SAS projects over one semester, a total of 119 microdevelopmental trajectories were plotted, with one student’s performance in one project missing due to a technical failure in recording. These trajecto-

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation
Trajectory 103 8 6
Level Level


Trajectory 230 8 6 4 2 0 0 10 20 Step 30 40

4 2 0 0 10 20 Step 30 40

Trajectory 326 8 6
Level Level

Trajectory 422 8 6 4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 Step 50 60 70

4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 Step 60 70 80 90

FIGURE 1. Four microdevelopmental trajectories (Trajectory 103, Trajectory 230, Trajectory 326, and Trajectory 422) by four students (Student 3, 30, 26, and 22) on four different projects (Project 1, 2, 3, and 4) illustrating pervasive and complex variations in microdevelopment in learning a computer program in the tutor-tutee context. The student performance is marked with small circles and the help provided by the teaching assistant is marked with solid small squares. Level on the Y-axis = Microdevelopmental Level. Step on the X-axis = Task Step. Note that in this study three digital numbers were used to label one of 119 microdevelopmental trajectories: the first digital number indicates the number of the project, from 1 to 4, and the second and third number represent the number of students, from 01 to 30. With this labeling system, one can easily see what specific project and which specific student a microdevelopmental figure represents.

ries show enormous complexity of microdevelopmental variation. Four microdevelopmental trajectories are presented in Figure 1 to illustrate the complex variations observed among these 119 trajectories. As shown in Trajectory 103, for example, Student 3 started her Project 1 with three performances at skill levels 5 and 6 (Steps 1, 2, and 3) and then was unable to sustain her high-level performance sequence. She asked two questions of the teaching assistant, who answered with the requested information (Steps 4 and 5). Next she made four consecutive performances moving from level 5 to level 6 again (Steps 6, 7, 8, and 9). To overcome another breakdown she received assistance again (Step 10), followed by five performances at levels 4 and 5 (Steps 11 to 15). Throughout the hour-long SAS session, her performance levels constantly varied between lower levels and higher levels. She finished the first project with 46 steps and received 10 instances of help. The



help provided by the teaching assistant, often higher or lower than the student’s current performance levels, enabled her to continue and finish the project. Similar to this trajectory, other microdevelopmental trajectories in Figure 1 varied substantially not only in performance level at each step, but also in number of helps received, overall shape of trajectories, time used for completing the project, and other aspects. In fact, all of the 119 individual microdevelopmental trajectories in the study look idiosyncratic and complicated, exhibiting a high degree of complexity of microdevelopmental variation. Since one cannot capture complex dynamics of microdevelopmental variation based on a few single performances, Vygotsky’s (1978) classic concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) was used to holistically identify emergent patterns behind the remarkable complexity among the 119 microdevelopmental trajectories. According to Vygotsky, ZPD “is the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.” (1978, p. 86). Based on this definition, especially extending Vygotsky’s notions of “the actual developmental level” and “the level of potential development,” three zones of development can be categorized in a hierarchical order (from lower, intermediate, to higher) and presented in a vertical order (from bottom, middle, to top): (1) the zone of potential development that is below the potential development level (where individuals cannot do a task even with help), the developmental zone in the bottom, (2) the zone of proximal development that is between the potential development level and the actual development level (where individuals can do a task with help), and (3) the zone of actual development that is above actual development level (where individuals can do a task independently without help). In other words, whether or how much scaffolding is needed is a critical indication of individuals’ current ability (van Geert, 1994, 1998). Based on Vygotsky’s concept of ZPD, we observed three general types of microdevelopmental trajectories that represent three major patterns of microdevelopmental variations over one SAS project: (a) unstable trajectories that show significant microdevelopmental variation when students performed below the zone of proximal development (i.e., within the potential development zone) and needed an excessive amount of help to finish a project, (b) fluctuating trajectories that show moderate variation when students performed within the zone of proximal development and needed a reasonable amount of help to finish a project, and (c) stable trajectories that show little variation when students performed above the zone of proximal development (i.e., within the actual development zone) and finished a project with a minimum amount of help. Quantitatively, trajectories with the number of helps in the upper 25th percentile, with 10 or more helps, were labeled unstable. Trajectories with number of helps between the 25th and 75th percentiles, with 4–9 helps, were labeled as fluctuating. Trajectories with the number of helps in the lower 25th percentile, 0–3 helps, were labeled as stable trajectories. These three patterns are illustrated below. Unstable trajectories. The upper panel of Figure 2 provides two examples of the trajectory with a very unstable pattern of microdevelopmental variations, indicating that students were working below the zone of proximal development. For Trajectory

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation
Trajectory 135 8 6
Level Level


Trajectory 326 8 6 4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 Step 60 70 80 90

4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 Step 60 70 80 90

Trajectory 206 8 6
Level Level

Trajectory 407 8 6 4 2 0 0 5 10 15 20 Step 25 30 35 40

4 2 0 0 5 10 15 20 Step Trajectory 101 8 6 25 30 35

Trajectory 327 8 6


4 2 0 0 5 10 Step 15

4 2 0 0 5 10 Step 15

FIGURE 2. Prototypical microdevelopmental trajectories of unstable ones (Trajectory 135 and 326), fluctuating ones (Trajectory 206 and 122), and stable ones (Trajectory 101 and 327). The student performance is marked with small circles and the help provided by the teaching assistant is marked with solid small squares.

135, Student 35 received a total of 38 instances of help during Project 1. The shape of the trajectory looks extremely complex, with few clusters of higher-level performance. For Trajectory 326, Student 26 received 33 instances of help at various levels during Project 3 and the trajectory also looks extremely complex, showing no clusters of higher-level performance. Overall, the two trajectories suggest that these two students were having a very difficult learning experience during the project. Even with frequent help, they were unable to sustain their performance level. As a result, their microdevelopmental trajectories featured a very unstable dynamic process. For them, the SAS task was far too difficult, and even the timely scaffoldings did not bring them to a level of competence using the program. In the study, 27 unstable trajectories were observed, accounting for 23% of the 119 trajectories.



Fluctuating trajectories. The middle panel of Figure 2 provides two examples of the trajectory with a fluctuating pattern of microdevelopmental variations, indicating that students were working within the zone of proximal development. For Trajectory 206, Student 6 received eight instances of help during Project 2. The trajectory also looks relatively complex, with several clusters of higher-level performances at or near level 6. For Trajectory 407, there were seven instances of help that Student 7 received, distributed through Project 4. This student completed the project within 40 steps, with many of them performed at level 6. The shape of the trajectory is moderately complex, showing several clusters of higher-level performances and one period of rapid oscillation. These two fluctuating trajectories from two different students for two different projects indicate a feature of transition between stable and unstable systems. These students did not appear to possess a solid knowledge of how to use SAS. They experienced frequent ups and downs, but with the help from the teaching assistant they had apparently learned certain basic knowledge, showing some work in progress and various clusters of higher-level performance. They obviously needed some help but not with all the procedural steps all the time. As a result, their microdevelopmental trajectories showed the feature of fluctuation, indicating a dynamic process that is characterized by moving from a relatively unstable system into a relatively stable one. There were a total of 56 fluctuating trajectories observed in the study, accounting for 47% of the 119 trajectories. Stable trajectories. The lower panel of Figure 2 provides two examples of the trajectory with a stable pattern of microdevelopmental variations and indicates that students were working above the zone of proximal development. For Trajectory 101, Student 1 received help only once in the beginning of Project 1. The shape of this trajectory is close to a straight line. The student finished the whole project within 19 steps. For Trajectory 327, Student 27 received help only twice in the middle of Project 3. The trajectory appears as a straight line with a small W-shaped curve in the middle. These two equilibratory trajectories from two different students at two different projects share the feature of stabilization: These students appeared to possess a solid knowledge of SAS and needed little help during the whole project. Thus, their microde20 velopmental trajectories showed a stabilized dynamic process. There were a 15 total of 36 stable trajectories observed in the study, accounting for 30% of 10 the 119 trajectories. 5 Figure 3 shows the change in number of the three types of micro0 0 1 2 3 4 developmental trajectories over time, Project showing an increase in stable trajecUnstable Fluctuating Stable tories and a decrease in fluctuating FIGURE 3. Change in number of the three trajectories, but with no statistically types of microdevelopmental trajectories significant change in unstable trajecover four projects. tories. Further, repeated measures
Number of trajectories

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation


analysis of variance shows no linear trend across the four projects, F(1, 29) = 2.085, p = .159, partial Eta2 = .076, but a significant nonlinear cubic trend, F(1, 29) = 6.333, p = .018, partial Eta2 = .179, indicating that overall the students accelerated their learning during the semester. This is consistent with what was observed during the study; approximately one quarter of the students improved their performance at the end of the semester, moving from the oscillatory trajectory to the equilibratory trajectory.

Patterns of Change in Microdevelopmental Variations Across Four Projects
Besides the examination of the basic patterns of microdevelopmental variations within one project, we further analyzed patterns of change in microdevelopmental variations across four projects among 30 students. Specifically, if one student’s trajectories across the four projects are all unstable, we classified them as the disorganization trend. If one student’s trajectories across the four projects are all stable, we classified them as the stabilization trend. If one student’s trajectories move toward less stability, showing fluctuating regression over time (e.g., from stable to fluctuating), we used a term of regression trend. If one student’s trajectories change toward more stability, showing fluctuating progression (e.g., from unstable to fluctuating), we used improvement to label them. Figures 4, 5, 6, and 7 provide prototypical examples of these four microdevelopmental trends. The trend of disorganization. As shown in Figure 4, Student 26 received 31 instances of help in Project 1; 27 in Project 2; 33 in Project 3; and 29 in Project 4. All four trajectories showed tremendous variations, with frequent ups and downs all the way to the end, but without many clusters of higher-level performance. This pattern transition moving from Projects 1 to 4 indicates a tendency toward dynamic disorganization and reveals that the student was experiencing serious difficulties in completing the task and made little progress over one semester, even with much help from the teaching assistant. The trend of regression. As shown in Figure 5, Student 22 started with seven helps in Project 1 and three helps in Project 2; the shapes of the two trajectories appeared quite flat with evident clusters of higher-level performance. However, this trend did not continue. In Projects 3 and 4, the student received 33 and 29 helps, and the shape of the trajectories turned into an unstable pattern. This pattern transition moving from fluctuating trajectories into unstable ones or from stable trajectories into fluctuating ones indicates a tendency of change toward dynamic regression and reveals that, with an increasing amount of scaffolding, this student was still getting more and more confused in using SAS over time, showing a clear regression rather than progression. The trend of improvement. As shown in Figure 6, Student 36 started with 18 helps in Project 1, a relatively poor performance among the 119 trajectories, but only needed nine helps in Project 2, although the shapes of the trajectory still appear quite up and down. In Projects 3 and 4, this student only received one and two help(s) respectively, and performance continued to improve. The shape of the trajectories turned into a

Trajectory 1 8 6

Trajectory 2 8 6

4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 Step Trajectory 3 8 6 60 70 80 90

4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 Step 60 70 80

Trajectory 4 8 6


4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 Step 60 70 80 90

4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 Step 50 60 70

FIGURE 4. Prototypical microdevelopmental trend of disorganization (Subject 26). The student performance is marked with small circles and the help provided by the teaching assistant is marked with solid small squares.

Trajectory 103 8 6
Level Level

Trajectory 222 8 6 4 2 0 0 5 10 Step Trajectory 422 8 6

4 2 0 0 5 10 15 20 Step Trajectory 322 8 6 25 30 35





4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 Step 60 70 80 90

4 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 Step 50 60 70

FIGURE 5. Prototypical microdevelopmental trend of regression (Subject 22). The student performance is marked with small circles and the help provided by the teaching assistant is marked with solid small squares.

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation
Trajectory 136 8 6
Level Level


Trajectory 236 8 6 4 2 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 Step 30 35 40

4 2 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 Step Trajectory 336 8 6

Trajectory 436 8 6


4 2 0 0 5 10 15 Step 20 25

4 2 0 0 5 10 Step 15

FIGURE 6. Prototypical microdevelopmental trend of improvement (Subject 36). The student performance is marked with small circles and the help provided by the teaching assistant is marked with solid small squares.

strong straight line. This pattern transition moving from Projects 1 to 4 indicates a tendency of change toward dynamic improvement and reveals that this student was experiencing significant learning difficulties in the beginning, but made substantial progress over time. As a result, the unstable trajectory shown in Project 1 evolved into a fluctuating trajectory in Project 2 and then a stable trajectory in Projects 3 and 4. The trend of stabilization. This trend is evident when a student’s four microdevelopmental trajectories from Project 1 to Project 4 show a clear tendency of dynamic stabilization, with stable patterns across sessions. As shown in Figure 7, Student 1 typically needed little help in order to complete the projects, and showed consistently higher level performances from the first project to the last one. The shapes of these four trajectories are very close to a straight line, indicating that this student showed a solid knowledge of SAS and was able to finish all the projects independently. Figure 8 presents the distribution of the four types of trends. Among the total of 30 students in the study, four students showed a trend of disorganization, nine students a trend of regression, 14 students a trend of improvement, and three students a trend of stabilization. These differences in the four types of microdevelopmental trends are statistically significant, χ2 (3, N = 30) = 10.27, p < .05, suggesting that these 30 students had significantly different types of learning experiences with SAS over one semester: With the scaffolding from the teaching assistant, nearly half of the students substantially improved their performance and nearly half of the students experienced various degrees of difficulty.

8 6

Trajectory 101 8 6

Trajectory 201

4 2 0 0 5 10 Step Trajectory 301 8 6 15

4 2 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 Step Trajectory 401 8 6



4 2 0 0 5 10 Step 15 20

4 2 0 0 5 10 Step 15

FIGURE 7. Prototypical microdevelopmental trend of stabilization (Subject 01). The student performance is marked with small circles and the help provided by the teaching assistant is marked with solid small squares.

The present study is one of the earliest empirical efforts that systematically examine patterns of microdevelopmental variations with a relatively large number of individuals over a relatively long period of time from the perspective of microdevelopmental dynamics. The findings of the study offer two important insights to the current understanding of microdevelopmental variation in particular and developmental processes in general. First, the study empirically demonstrates real complexity of microdevelopmental variations with the non-aggregated microdevelopmental trajectory as the basic unit of analysis, as complex as clinical ECG diagrams. The findings of the study indicate that, just as objects invisible to the eye become visible under a microscope, the process of learning SAS by 30 students over four projects from a non-aggregated trajectory perspective shows extremely complex variations, which we might never see at a regular level of observation using the double- or single-aggregated tends. Through intensive observation of students’ performance in learning SAS, one can see the whole spectrum of the enormous variations of complex change over time. The microscopic process of learning SAS, represented by various microdevelopmental trajectories, microdevelopmental trends, as well as microscopic details, presents empirical evidence of the ongoing process of learning SAS individually or as a group. One might consider these complex variations as the result of some artifact, such as the scale used, instead of reflecting true patterns of microdevelopment. This possible

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation


Number of students



0 Disorganization Regression Improvement Stabilization Type of trend

FIGURE 8. Distribution of the four types of microdevelopmental trends.

explanation can be ruled out by empirical evidence that different patterns occur in different tasks and situations (e.g., Bidell & Fischer, 1994; Granott, 1993, 2002; Parziale, 1997, 2002; Schwartz, 2000; Schwartz & Sadler, in press). Granott (2002), for example, used a similar microdevelopmental scale based on dynamic skill theory to examine pairs of novices performing an open-ended exploratory task and found a different trajectory—recurring upward movement in level with frequent fluctuation, without the ceiling levels observed in the present study. Thus, it is unlikely that such different trajectories would be the artifact of an assessment instrument. The empirical literature indicates that using different basic units of analysis (i.e., group means, individual means, or individual trajectories) produces different estimates of the complexity of microdevelopmental variation (e.g., de Weerth, van Geert, & Hoijtink, 1999; Gelman, Romo, & Francis, 2002; Granott & Parziale, 2002; Hsu & Fogel, 2003; Kuhn, Gracia-Mila, Zohar, & Anderson, 1995; Siegler, 1995; Thelen, Corbetta, & Spencer, 1996; Yan & Fischer, 2002). These differences can be illustrated by three graphs based on three microdevelopmental studies published in a recent book of empirical papers (Granott & Parziale, 2002). Siegler (2002, p. 35, Figure 1.3) plotted the group-based percentage of strategy use over multiple sessions, elegantly showing a general trend of overlapping waves in microdevelopment but not complex variations across multiple trials among individuals. In contrast, Gelman, Romo, and Francis (2002, p. 280, Figure 10.3) showed more complex variation, consisting of eight individual trajectories, clearly presenting individual-based trends over time but not variations across multiple sessions. Granott (2002, p. 225, Figure 8.2) found the most complex variation, an individual-based trajectory for the collaborative performances of a pair of students working together in one session, with no aggregation of multiple interchanges. The results of the present study are consistent with the Granott study, but show even more complex variations with a larger sample size over a longer time period. Given that the basic procedure to complete the computational task with SAS is relatively fixed, the complexity of the microdevelopmental variations in acquiring



other cognitive skills in ill-defined domains (e.g., playing chess or inventing a new device) might be much larger. The second insight that one can learn from the study is that behind the complexity of microdevelopmental variation there are certain patterns of microdevelopmental dynamics, as dynamic as clinical ECG diagrams. ECG diagrams are often too complex for a novice to see individual heart beat patterns immediately. But experienced doctors who have received specific ECG training and understand normal and abnormal heart dynamics can recognize certain patterns of heart dynamics from complex ECGs that directly indicate typical heart problems. Likewise, researchers knowledgeable about microdevelopmental dynamics can recognize from complex microdevelopmental variations that the dynamic process of learning SAS takes place in the form of complex pattern change rather than simple linear progress. Looking at all 119 microdevelopmental trajectories in the study, it is clear that learning SAS does not always show a simple linear progress moving from lower levels to higher ones. Instead, they typically reveal nonlinear dynamic patterns, changing from one pattern to another. Learning SAS involves constant transitions of complex patterns over time rather than stepwise changes in magnitude of the SAS performance alone. In other words, the traditional linear approach will encounter tremendous challenges in discovering and interpreting the enormous complexity in microdevelopmental variation; in contrast, the nonlinear dynamic approach can not only reveal a higher degree of complexity in developmental processes, but also explain dynamic patterns within the complexity. The findings of the study have important theoretical implications for understanding developmental processes among individuals and groups. Understanding true microgenesis is important for understanding true ontogenesis, which occurs distinctly in individuals, even for physical growth (Lampl, Veldhuis, & Johnson, 1992) and more obviously for psychological development and learning (e.g., Estes, 1956; van der Maas & Molenaar, 1992). Just like doctors who use electrocardiograms to diagnose an individual patient’s heart dynamics, researchers should use non-aggregated individual microdevelopmental trajectories as the basic unit for both data collection and data analysis in order to understand microgenesis and ontogenesis. Aggregating performance scores across multiple trials or multiple individuals will substantially disturb, disrupt, and even destroy our recognition of the temporal dynamics of microgenesis, and thus will essentially make it impossible to develop an authentic and accurate picture of ontogenesis. Furthermore, understanding true microgenesis is also important for understanding true polygenesis, an ultimate goal for behavioral researchers to generalize research findings to large populations. Like experienced doctors who have solid knowledge of the typology of cardiologic symptoms among various clinic populations, researchers should first examine microgenesis and ontogenesis among individuals, and then move further to study typologies of developmental processes among different groups. The present study has demonstrated how the typological analysis of a large number of individual microdevelopmental trajectories can shed light on dynamics of microgenesis, ontogenesis, and polygenesis. The findings of the study also have useful implications for practitioners working in the complex real world. The present study suggests that a developmental process

Pattern Emergence and Pattern Transition in Microdevelopmental Variation


primarily concerns pattern emergence and pattern transition rather than simple ladderlike linear sequences. Thus, it is important for practitioners such as educators or clinicians to focus on pattern changes rather than the linear progress of their students or their patients to design effective educational or interventional programs. Specifically, it would be helpful to have “dynamics eyes” and “complex minds” to view developmental processes, develop sophisticated knowledge of complex patterns of behavioral changes, acquire skills for identifying pattern changes based on both observed individual trajectories and sophisticated knowledge of pattern changes, synthesize a typology of pattern changes of individuals and groups, and effectively help individuals and groups to meet various challenges in daily life. In summary, the present study of pattern emergence and pattern transition in microdevelopmental variation provides new evidence of complex dynamics of developmental processes as transformed constantly in the real world. From the dynamic systems viewpoint, a microdevelopmental trajectory represents a series of temporal states in which an individual’s multi-component skill system interacts with the multi-component task system in a specific context over a short time span. The three types of trajectories observed in this study—unstable, fluctuating, and stable—reflect three emergent patterns of a dynamic system. Students change among these patterns in a continuous process of self-organization that produces the four types of trends—disorganization, regression, improvement, and stabilization—across sessions. There exits a relation between complex microdevelopmental variations and dynamic pattern emergence/ transitions. That is, seemingly complex microdevelopmental variations reveal basic dynamic patterns of learning and development; the basic dynamic mechanisms produce complex microdevelopmental variations. Put simply, complexity reveals dynamics, and dynamics produce complexity (van Geert, 1998).

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The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year: A Microgenetic Case Study
Alan Fogel
Department of Psychology University of Utah alan.fogel@psych.utah.edu.

Ilse DeKoeyer-Laros
Department of Psychology University of Utah

Abstract: To explore the relational-historical processes by which infants may develop an intersubjective sense of self in a relational context, one mother-infant dyad was observed weekly across the 9-month developmental transition, using a microgenetic research design. Qualitative research methods were used to study the developmental changes in the dynamic system of the mother-infant relationship. We discovered four developmental periods that marked qualitative differences in the patterns of communication between mother and infant and the infant’s emerging self-awareness. In the first developmental period, the mother’s attunements to the infant temporarily stabilize the infant’s attention to her own action. The ability to self-attune, crucial to emerging self and other-awareness, becomes a dynamically stable “attractor” by the second period, in which the infant attends consistently to her own and her mother’s behavior. This leads to the emergence of a stable communication frame for pounding in the third period, involving increasing temporal contiguity of self and other actions, brief glimpses of secondary intersubjectivity during the pounding frame, and changes in the mother’s behavior (such as emphasizing the word “you”). These changes lead to the consolidation and spread of secondary intersubjectivity to other frames in the mother-infant relationships (as reported by the mother’s diary) in the fourth developmental period.

Some theories of the development of self-awareness in childhood have emphasized representational, reflective types of self-knowledge (Harter, 1999; Pipp, 1993). Most developmental psychologists agree that toddlers around 18 months of age show




evidence of reflective self-awareness when they begin to recognize themselves in a mirror and separate the “I-self” from the “me-self” (Harter, 1999; Lewis, 1995). Research on infants prior to mirror self-recognition, however, have revealed that prerepresentational forms of self-awareness can be found in the familiar sensations and movements of the body, the experience of emotions, and the awareness of others’ emotions and intentions (Carpenter, Nagell, & Tomasello, 1998; Gibson, 1993; Neisser, 1993; Rochat, 1995; Stern, 1985; Tomasello, 1993; Trevarthen, 1993). In this paper, we are interested in examining the developmental transition in self- and other-awareness that occurs around the age of 9 months. This developmental transition has been described in many different ways in the infancy literature. Some focus on infants’ developing skills to coordinate joint attention, the onset of deictic gestures such as pointing, and the awareness that the other person has the intention to look at or refer to the same object to which their own attention is directed (Carpenter et al. 1998; Gustafson, Green, & West, 1979; Tomasello, 1993). Others focus on the change in the infant’s awareness of the feelings and intentions that are shared in the relationship between the parent and infant. Trevarthen calls this new developmental level “secondary intersubjectivity” (Trevarthen, 1993; 1998; Trevarthen & Hubley, 1978), defined as coordinating and sharing with another person one’s attention, feelings and intentions toward a third pole of an object, event, or action. Secondary intersubjectivity implies that the infant is aware of co-affectivity and co-agency with another person in relation to something else. Similarly, Stern (1985) proposes the emergence of the “intersubjective self” around 9 months of age in which the infant is thought to notice that others are affected by her agency just as she is affected by the agency of others. Secondary intersubjectivity develops after “primary intersubjectivity” (2–9 months), in which the infant is aware of moving and feeling in relation to another person, a “resonance” that is felt during interaction and that feels different to the infant than when alone (Trevarthen, 1993). A similar perspective is taken by Stern (1993) who describes the “core self” (2–9 months) in terms of emotions such that it is “not only the feeling experienced but also the experience of interpersonal evocation or regulation or sharing” (p. 205). Qualitative clinical case study observations of parent-child interactions suggest that infants in the first half year whose parents mirror the their emotions and attune to them are more likely by the end of their first year to show an awareness of and emotional responsiveness to others, and to have a secure attachment relationship with their parents (Beebe & Lachmann, 2002; Fogel, 2001; Stern, 1985; Winnicott, 1971, 1990). Quantitative research on larger samples has shown that parental responsiveness, warmth, and emotional openness are linked to more adaptive child functioning, including secure attachment, social competence, and self-esteem (Ainsworth, Behar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Baumrind, 1989; Black & Logan, 1995; Coopersmith, 1967; De Wolff & Van IJzendoorn, 1997; Feshbach, 1987; Koren-Karie, Oppenheim, Dolev, Sher, & Etzion-Carasso, 2002; Maccoby, 1992; Oppenheim & Koren-Karie, 2002; Oppenheim, Koren-Karie, & Sagi, 2001). In addition, normally developing mothers and infants both change their behavior in relation to each other in coordinated ways over time, suggesting that the dyad develops as a shared affective and communicative system (Beebe & Lachmann, 2002; Hsu & Fogel, 2001; Lavelli & Fogel, 2005). From the late fetal period, infants are aware of at least some of their bodily states, movements, and senses (Damasio, 1999; Fifer, Monk, & Grose-Fifer, 2001). Multiple,

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repeated experiences of social interaction form experience-dependent neuromotor pathways of how to do things with intimate others, called “implicit relational knowing” (Beebe, 1998; Lyons-Ruth, 1998; Panksepp, 2001; Schore, 2001; Stern, 1998). The right limbic system and pre-frontal cortex appear to be especially attuned to implicit relational knowing which is manifested in continuing, largely automatic, patterns of doing things with others (Shonkoff, & Phillips, 2000; Schore, 2001; Siegel, 2001). The neurological traces of these repeated interpersonal and emotional routines may be the foundation of “internal working models” of attachment (Bowlby, 1973; Bretherton, 1990, 1991, 1993). Intersubjectivity can also be understood from a dynamic systems perspective because the awareness of the self goes beyond the skin boundaries of the individual to include the “self-regulating other” (e.g., Beebe & Lachman, 2002; Stern, 1985). Pointing, for example, implies the awareness of another person who shares the same focus of attention. From the infant’s perspective at the end of the first year, the personal intention toward an object, the gesture (pointing), the referent (an object), and the other person appear to be part of a single system. Social referencing, to take another example of an infant’s awareness at the end of the first year, implies a personal intention to regulate emotion that is organized together with directing attention to another’s emotional expression, apparently suggesting that the infant’s emotion regulation is organized into a dyadic system. There are many experimental studies showing a developmental transition at 9 months in self-awareness, emotional communication, attachment behavior, and cognition (Behne, Carpenter, & Tomasello, 2005; Camaioni, Perucchini, Bellagamba, & Colonessi, 2004; Legerstee, 2005; Phillips, Wellman, & Spelke, 2002; Sommerville & Woodward, 2005; Striano & Rochat, 1999; Tomasello, 1993). These studies are fundamental in establishing, via experimental manipulation, that particular forms of infant behavior indeed reveal developmental changes in self- and other-awareness. On the other hand, however, they do not reveal anything about the process of change by which new levels of self-awareness emerge. Theoretical explanations refer to shifts in cognitive understanding of self and others or to neurological changes or to changes in social communication, but little is known about how these developments occur in individual children in the context of their relationships with parents. In order to study the change process from a dynamic systems perspective, two strategies are required. First, one must examine multiple elements of the system as they change together over time. As Thelen’s work on motor development from a dynamic systems perspective reveals, recurring linkages form across neurological, sensory, motor, and contextual domains. These so-called “attractors”—such as kicking, crawling, and walking—are revealed to observers as recurring sequences and cooccurrences of coordinated action in relation to particular contexts (Thelen, Fisher, & Ridley-Johnson, 1984; Thelen & Ulrich, 1991). Along the same lines, the infant’s awareness of self and others can be viewed as a dynamic psychosocial system that partakes of the relationship between the infant and significant others (Fogel, 1993, 1995, 2001; Fogel & Thelen, 1987; Garvey & Fogel, in press; Granic, 2000; Shanker & King, 2002). These attractors are called “frames” (cf. “formats,” Bruner, 1983): regularly recurring patterns of communication that involve coordinated action and shared cognition and emotion (Fogel, 1993; Fogel, Garvey, Hsu, & West-Stroming, 2006).



Particular parent-infant games, like peek-a-boo or tickle, are frames in the relationship system, as are book reading, mealtimes, bedtime rituals, and the like. The second dynamic systems research strategy is to observe change as it is occurring, not simply before and after the change. One of the central methodological principles of dynamic systems as applied to the study of developmental change is the microgenetic research design (Flynn & Siegler, 2007; Fogel, 1990; Lavelli, Pantoja, Hsu, Messinger, & Fogel, 2005; Siegler & Crowley, 1991; Thelen, 1990). Individual cases are observed frequently across a key period of developmental change. This gives a picture of the change process by observing before, during, and after with a sufficient density of observations to reveal how the different components and emergent attractors of the dynamic system become organized and re-organized as a function of time (Fogel et al., 2006). This is a very different approach to developmental research compared to cross-sectional experimental designs or to large-N longitudinal designs in which presumed factors contributing to change are assessed via patterns of shared variance across subjects. The latter uses statistical relationships between variables, while dynamic systems research focuses on real time sequential and co-occurring relationships between observed actions and on historical changes over developmental time within the same case. Microgenetic designs have been mostly applied to the study of cognitive development (Piaget, 1952; Siegler & Crowley, 1991). There are, by contrast, only a few published microgenetic studies on the development of self-awareness. Trevarthen’s work, cited above, is one example. Another study examines the developmental transition that occurs after 18 months using a discourse analysis of monthly videotapes of mealtimes with one child and her family (Forrester, 2001). Findings of this study show how the parent-child discourse shifts in a way that leads to a growing awareness of the child’s self-agency and dialogical positioning vis-à-vis the parents. It also shows clearly how the self develops in relational frames. A similar approach is taken by Garvey and Fogel (in press) on emotional development between 2 and 6 months. The purpose of the present paper is to describe the developmental changes in the communication system of one mother-infant dyad across the 9 month developmental transition, i.e., the transition between primary and secondary intersubjectivity. Our focus is on the process of change in secondary intersubjectivity, a topic which has not been previously investigated. We selected a single representative frame, a spontaneous game of pounding the table of a high chair in which the infant is sitting, and describe the ways in which actions and emotions bear on the infant’s development of secondary intersubjectivity with respect to her mother.

Method Participants
The dyad we selected for this case study was part of a group of 13 mother-infant dyads that were videotaped weekly over the infants’ first year of life and bi-weekly in

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


their second year. Between 6 and 9 months, the infants were seated in a high chair with their mothers opposite them. “Susan” is the youngest of three daughters in a Caucasian, middle-class family from a Midwestern U.S. city. So far as we could tell from our videos, Susan was developing normally. Although the transition to secondary intersubjectivity occurred in all of our dyads, we chose Susan and her mother for this investigation primarily because communication patterns specific to intersubjectivity occurred frequently on their videos, and more often than in the other dyads. In the kinds of free-play observations recorded here, there is a balance between letting each dyad develop in its own way and providing sufficient control to capture phenomena of interest. Because this one dyad’s data had a primacy of content related to the subject of this study, we cannot be certain that the change process in intersubjectivity was similar for the other dyads during times when our cameras were not on them.

Video recordings. At the dyad’s first visit to the laboratory, Susan was 4 weeks old. At this time, the mother “Sheryl” was asked to play with her infant in any way she wanted. In subsequent sessions, no further instructions were given in order to leave the dyad free rein to create their own relationship in the context of the laboratory setting. At 27 weeks of age, Susan was moved into a high chair and at 42 weeks, the mother and infant started playing at a low table. With Susan in the high chair, the dyad played face-to-face without toys, although two toys were available (which could be used, for instance, if the infant became fussy). For this study, we used only the high chair sessions between 27 and 40 weeks of age. The carpeted laboratory playroom (3.81 m × 3.81 m) was equipped with two cameras, operated from the room next door. Videotapes utilized in the present study show split-screen recordings of the two cameras operated from the observation room. Mother’s and infant’s faces and upper bodies were visible as much as possible. A time code giving elapsed minutes and seconds was superimposed on the screen. Susan and Sheryl made 11 visits to the laboratory with Susan between 27 and 40 weeks of age and their interactions were video recorded for 1 hour and 55 minutes total (mean duration = 10 minutes, 30 seconds range 9:03– 11:17). Visits at 31, 38, and 39 weeks are missing because the dyad could not attend and the one at 41 weeks is missing because of technical difficulties. Journal. In addition to being videotaped every week, Sheryl was asked to make daily or weekly journal entries, noting any changes in the infant’s social, emotional, and physical development. The journal instructions did not mention intersubjectivity as a focus, again, in order to allow the mother to use her own constructions of what she considered important. For this study, entries were used that started at 26 weeks and ended at 40 weeks. Sheryl made 38 near-daily entries between 26 and 34 weeks. Starting at 34 weeks and ending at 40 weeks, she made seven weekly entries. The second author read and reread these 45 journal entries, focusing on any entries that were deemed to be observations about the infant’s emerging self-awareness and pounding behavior. All of these entries are given verbatim in this paper.



Qualitative Analyses and Data Selection
Qualitative research is particularly well-suited to the study of relationship change because communication systems are regulated by the way people make meaning of each other’s actions rather than by the physical parameters of those actions (such as velocity and force). The intersubjective meaning of communicative actions can be thought of as co-regulated within the system of communication in the same way as any other pattern formation process studied from a dynamic systems perspective. Qualitative research differs from traditional quantitative approaches by taking the observer’s perspective explicitly into account (Patton, 1990). This fits well with the dynamic systems perspective if we generalize the system under investigation to include subject, environment, and observer (Fogel, 2006). Many dynamic systems have been modeled as iterative processes in which innovation and variability transform one dynamically stable set of attractors into another (van Geert, 1994; 1998). Multiple iterative passes through videotapes and narrative transcriptions are at the heart of qualitative data analysis and interpretation. When one studies developmental change qualitatively, therefore, the iterative process of communication sessions recorded over time becomes embedded within the iterative process of data analysis and interpretation (see Figure 1). This ethnographic approach becomes scientific to the extent that we make explicit the process of change in the observer-observed system, and also provide sufficient detail from the transcriptions for the reader to follow the discourse. For that reason, we provide narrative and photographic evidence in our results. More details about qualitative dynamic systems research can be found elsewhere (Fogel, 2006; Fogel et al., 2006). The complete narrative descriptions of this study are available by contacting the first author. First Phase. Because the focus of this study was awareness of self and others related to intersubjectivity, we decided to focus our observations on moments in which the infant paid visual, auditory, or tactile attention to parts of her own body, and/or to her own actions or to her mother’s actions. Initial observations of the videos of the selected sessions in this dyad suggested that such moments most often occurred in the context of a frame that eventually developed between the mother and the infant, in which one partner would hit the tray of the high chair and the other would respond (“the pounding game”). In this phase, we as observers are letting the form of the existing data guide the selection of segments to be observed. Because of the timeintensive commitment required by qualitative analysis, observers need to be highly selective in order to focus their efforts on those segments of data most relevant to the research questions, in our case, the process of change in intersubjectivity. Second Phase. All sessions were viewed to identify (by time code) all events in which the infant hit the tray of the high chair, however slightly, or one of the toys. All instances in which the mother hit or tapped the table with her hands or fingertips were also selected because such maternal behaviors were often part of dyadic pounding events (with the mother tapping and the infant pounding). These events were then captured in digital format utilizing video-editing software (Adobe Premiere 5.1; see Secrist, de Koeyer, Bell, & Fogel, 2002). In order to capture the context of the events, video clips were captured starting 3 seconds before the onset of the pounding-related

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


Developmental time for participants

Real time sessions for participants Initial impression Developmental time for research process

Emergent Interpretive frame

Real time observation and interpretation sessions

FIGURE 1. The Dynamics of the Observer-World System in Qualitative Research on Developmental Change. The prospectively recorded material (narratives, videos) consists of repeated real-time observation sessions across a developmental transition (the participant’s developmental change). The timeline of this material is nested within the timeline of the research process in which the recorded material is repeatedly observed and interpreted, which leads to a developmental change in the interpretation of the observations (a developmental change in the conceptualization of the researchers about the recorded material). The results of the study are emergent from this dynamic iterative process of engagement and re-engagement with the recorded material.

behavior and ending 3 seconds after its offset. When the infant pounded repeatedly, with only seconds between the poundings, this was captured as a single episode. We included behavior indicating self-awareness related to the pounding in the captured events, such as when the infant pounded and then looked intently at her hands, lying still on the table. Also, we considered it part of the pounding event if Sheryl’s tapping evolved into a tickling game. Such events were captured until the mother stopped tickling. The captured events containing pounding or tapping and related behaviors occurred for 41% of the total elapsed time in the selected high chair sessions (total time 44 minutes, 31 seconds). The mean duration per week of the captured events was 4:03 minutes (range 1:33 minutes, occurring during week 32, to 5:54 minutes, occurring during week 34). Infant pounding events accounted for 67% of the total captured event duration (29 minutes, 54 seconds), and maternal tapping and tickling games accounted for the remaining 33% (14 minutes, 37 seconds). After all the events were captured, they were compiled and edited in sequential order to form a “developmental movie” of pounding between 27 to 40 weeks. To



ensure that the movie contained all behaviors relevant to pounding, they were repeatedly checked against the original videotapes in an iterative process. If necessary, the movie was edited by adding or deleting captured video material. The developmental movie is a crucial step in this type of change process research. First of all, it collects everything of interest in one relatively short documentary film. Second, it makes it extremely easy to view and review the movie in an iterative way in order to assess what changes and what remains the same from one session to the next. Third Phase. After this, the developmental movie was viewed repeatedly, both within segments and for the entire movie. For a more in-depth view of what occurred, detailed descriptive narratives were also written, in an iterative process called the constant comparative method in which narratives are re-written until nothing new can be added (Patton, 1990; Strauss & Corbin, 1990). All socio-emotional events surrounding the pounding activities were described (i.e., gaze direction, emotional expressions, vocalizations, intensity, and rhythm patterns). The developmental movie and narratives were then reviewed in an iterative process to compare the weekly sessions with regard to the infant’s attention to the pounding, her emotional expressions, and dyadic interaction patterns around the pounding behaviors. Fourth Phase. After reviewing all infant pounding and maternal tapping or tickling events, a second developmental movie was created, including only those moments in which the infant focused on the pounding (i.e., by glancing or gazing at her pounding hands, repeating the pounding actions, by looking at mother after mother imitated her pounding actions, etc.). This was done because we concluded from our repeated observations that these were the most relevant to intersubjectivity. We also found that pounding events in which the infant was not focused on the pounding, or in which the infant was pounding toward a toy, did not clearly contribute to the emergence of intersubjectivity (from our observations in the earlier phases). Fifth Phase. Finally, a third developmental movie was created that contained only those events in which mother and infant paid attention to the infant’s pounding actions, attention being the key behavioral component of self-awareness. This final movie was 15 minutes and 56 seconds in length. It was reviewed repeatedly in an iterative process to clarify the processes by which intersubjectivity within this dyadic pounding frame eventually developed. Each of these research phases required months of work and the final project lasted several years. In the end, the results of this work emerged from this data analysis process (Figure 1) using the constant comparative method. Results, therefore, are not final or deterministic, but rather reflect the point at which no new interpretations emerged from our personal engagement with these data.

Reliability and Validity
In qualitative research, the traditional forms of reliability and validity are not useful indices of the quality of the research. Qualitative research assumes that any description of reality is colored by one’s perspective—in our case, a long-term engagement with the data—and that observers cannot be independent because of the research

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


process that requires personal and long-term engagement with the data. From this perspective, the results are importantly and necessarily emergent from the observer-world system. Training an independent observer is typically not desirable because of the need for long-term engagement with the data, a research process that is similar to anthropological field work. Qualitative research is assessed according to the credibility of the observers. Credibility has three criteria: prolonged engagement of the researcher with the data, the observers’ cumulative experience doing similar investigations, and making the data available for readers to inspect (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994; Rogoff, Mistry, Gioncu, & Mosier, 1993; Savage-Rumbaugh & Fields, 2000). Credibility is typically the way in which people assess the trustworthiness of professionals such as physicians, attorneys, or psychologists. It is also used, at least implicitly, in other case-based approaches, such as in the evaluation of clinical case reports, anthropological field work, and judgments in legal cases. Our research methods, described above, testify to our prolonged engagement with these data. The authors of this paper worked as a peer research team with the second author as the primary observer. Between the two authors, we have over 40 years of experience observing parent-infant communication and its development. Finally, although we cannot share the original videos because of confidentiality concerns, we do share most of our narratives and many still photographs in the results. Even researchers with fewer years of experience can be considered credible assuming that they meet the other two criteria listed here. Validity in population-based research depends in part on the sampling procedure, the size of the sample, and the confidence with which a measure is thought to reflect stable latent characteristics. Our final developmental movie, from a single dyad, is only 15 minutes and 56 seconds in duration. While this may seem scant information on which to base scientific conclusions, this needs to be placed in the context of the qualitative and microgenetic methods used here. First of all, these data are developmental: not a single observation of 15 minutes but rather a string of observations that capture a change process. Second, our lengthy sampling procedure testifies to that fact that this movie was culled from an ongoing process of communication in this dyad. The dyad, in other words, was not merely observed for a few minutes each week. The larger communicative context is essential for the emergence of the events captured in the movie and for their spontaneity. In the end, however, the final developmental movie can be considered a type of salient anecdote because of its brevity and because it is from a single dyad. How is such data credible scientifically? One must consider the problem of how an investigator might go about capturing the key events in any developmental change process. Ideally, one would live in a household and become a participant observer. Even with this amount of observation, it would still be up to the trained observer to identify key observations that illustrate most clearly a salient event or series of events. In our case, we felt fortunate that we had indeed captured a sufficient number of key events to piece together a reliable portrait of intersubjective change in at least this one dyad from our larger sample. Piaget is known to have said that “an acute observation is worth a thousand statistics” (quoted by Lock, 1992, p. 500). According to Lock (1992),



. . . what counts as an anecdote is not merely observed, nor stumbled upon, but actively selected by an observer, filtered out of on-going reality as a result of perception intuitively pre-informed, in a way we have yet to fully elucidate. . .” (p. 501) In this paper, we have endeavored to elucidate this process, and to provide an explicit account of its potential importance to scientific discovery in the context of doing qualitative, microgenetic research. Like any research, it awaits replication and confirmation with larger samples.

Based on the qualitative research process described above, we were able to distinguish four qualitatively different periods in the development of the infant’s attention to her pounding actions. In the first period, from 26 to 32 weeks, the pounding game was just emergent. Susan did not seem aware that she was the agent of the pounding but she would look up immediately when the mother mirrored or attuned to her actions. In the second period, 33 and 34 weeks, Susan began to attend to her own pounding and her mother again attuned to the pounding movements. During the third period, between 35 and 37 weeks, the dyad established a mutually understood game of pounding, a stable communicative frame, which Sheryl called “the slap game.” During the final period, between 38 and 40 weeks, the infant appeared to become aware of her agency in this game, and her abilities to initiate, accept, and refuse to play the game, all signs of an emergent secondary intersubjectivity. We observed action as it spontaneously unfolded over time. We rely on the support of existing experimental studies to interpret particular forms of infant behavior as indicative of self- and intersubjective-awareness. In the following descriptions, we use boldface to indicate the times when Susan appears to show intersubjective self-awareness by co-regulating her behavior with respect to her mother, as when Susan smiles and looks at her mother following her own or her mother’s pounding. Italics are used to indicate when Susan shows awareness of her own actions, typically by using some type of crossmodal self-reference, as when looking at her own hands while pounding.

The First Developmental Period, The Emergence of the Pounding Behavior: 26 to 32 Weeks
When Susan was 26 weeks old, Sheryl wrote in her journal about Susan’s behavior at home, “As I was holding my hand out in front of Susan, palm up, she brought her hand down on top of mine – she ‘slapped five.’ Actually, she is pretty ‘slappy’ – any hard surface in front of her feels the wrath of her hands.” Several instances of such pounding behaviors were observed in the first two videotaped high chair sessions. For example, during the first minute of the first high chair observation at 27 weeks,

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


Susan starts to pound energetically with her left hand, gazing to her right. She is not particularly attentive to the pounding until Sheryl starts to vocalize in the same rhythm, “Oom! Boom, boom!” Immediately, Susan looks into Sheryl’s eyes and pauses, after which Sheryl repeats “Oom!” Mother and infant smile and Susan’s jaw slightly drops. In this example, the first part of which is shown in Figure 2, Susan’s pattern of attention suggests that she does not seem aware of her abilities to intentionally initiate or modify the pounding action, or of its effects on Sheryl. Based on Susan’s gazing at her mother in response to Sheryl’s attunements (primary intersubjectivity), however, it appears as though the mother’s cross-modal attunement (vocalizing in the same rhythm and intensity as the infant’s pounding; cf. Stern, 1985) amplifies the infant’s attention to the pounding actions in line with Stern’s ideas about the way in which infants’ sense of their own actions become regulated by their mothers.

FIGURE 2. The first developmental period: The emergence of pounding behavior (26 to 32 weeks). In this sequence taken from the videos, Susan looks away to her right while pounding the table of the high chair. (Note: the on-screen timer was not working for this segment; view pictures in the sequence upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right).



When Sheryl vocalizes along with her own tapping motions, the infant shows a different response. At 28 weeks, we observed a sequence in which both Susan’s and Sheryl’s hands are involved in pounding or tapping, while mother vocalized in tune with her own actions. Susan pounds a few times, looking at her hand. She forcefully pounds once while gazing away, then pounds again, gazing at her hand as it lands. Sheryl exclaims, “Boom!” Susan looks at her mother, drops her jaw, and pounds again. This time, as Susan’s hands hit the table tray from the top, Sheryl’s hit it from the bottom! Sheryl repeats this tap from the bottom, accompanied by “Boom!” Now, Susan’s hand wavers in the air for an instant and Sheryl repeats again. For 2 seconds, Susan stares at her mother with an open mouth, and then tries to look under the tray. Sheryl hits faster, saying “Boom! Boom!” and Susan pounds twice, as if in response to her mother’s vocalizations. Sheryl repeats Susan’s rhythm by hitting under the table twice. Susan looks up at her. They smile. Susan pounds twice, gazing at her hand, while Sheryl taps “Boom–Boom” under the table. The infant drops her jaw. A possible interpretation, following Stern (1985), is that the infant notices the auditory similarity between her own and her mother’s pounding but only feels proprioceptive sensations with her own actions (and not with her mother’s). Sheryl’s tapping, which has a similar rhythm and intensity as Susan’s pounding, is not authored by the infant and Susan seems to be curious about the ownership of these actions (pausing, experimenting with making sounds herself, and listening to her mother’s). Between 29 and 32 weeks, Susan starts to shift her gaze between Sheryl’s face, her own pounding hands, and back. At 32 weeks, for example, she watches her pounding hands with great attention before she shifts her gaze between her own hands and her mother’s face. Attention to her pounding seems related to Susan’s physiological state. Throughout all observations, Susan rarely pounds during moments of fussiness. At 30 weeks, she is particularly fussy and she rarely pounds or looks at her hands, although she is still attending to mother’s tapping hands. Susan’s attention to her pounding movements also seems to be related to her mother’s attention to the pounding. From 29 to 32 weeks, Sheryl is mainly a commentator, talking about other things and not commenting on the pounding. She does not explicitly focus on the pounding and rarely co-orients her movements or vocalizations with the infant’s pounding movements. Without Sheryl’s amplifications, Susan seems less likely to pay attention to her own pounding actions, again consistent with Stern’s hypothesis. At the beginning of the session at 29 weeks, for example, Susan pounds for a long time, occasionally glancing at her hands but mostly gazing away. When Sheryl does participate, it is more likely that Susan pays attention to her pounding actions. At 29 weeks, Sheryl vocalizes in the rhythm of the infant’s pounding movement only once, and Susan immediately looks up at her mother. At 32 weeks, Sheryl mimics the pounding movements with her voice and again Susan immediately looks up at her. When Sheryl repeats this, they smile. Similar to the earlier observations, Sheryl appears to provide a mirror for Susan’s actions, reflecting the contours of the pounding actions (up–down, up–down). One day after this observation, Sheryl writes in her journal,

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


While on mommy’s bed, Susan recognized her shadow on the wall. She seemed to catch something was “moving” on the wall and looked intently, probably trying to figure out what (or who) it was. She appeared to realize that the object moved with her. In summary, for this first developmental period, Susan’s ability to track her own actions is rudimentary. She seems to require her mother’s close attunements in order to begin to sense her own activity and its effects, as if the mother’s attunements amplify the feedback into her own sense of self. The example of the shadow suggests that Susan’s awareness of her own agency is becoming more stable by the end of this period.

The Second Developmental Period, Attentive Pounding: 33 to 34 Weeks
At 33 and 34 weeks, the various components of Susan’s pounding—mainly her hand and eye movements—appear to become more strongly coordinated as a stable system of cross-modal self-awareness. She shows more visual fascination for her pounding hands than during any of the earlier sessions. She clearly stretches out her arms and uses flat hands as she pounds, and she looks at her own hands at length and intently (see Figure 3). She also vocalizes during pounding, a possible self-attunement that may amplify her attention to the action. Finally, she varies the force and height of the movements while looking at her hands and she alternates pounding with her left and right hand. The following observation is from the outset of the session at 33 weeks: Susan starts to pound with her right hand, gazing at it attentively. Sheryl watches her, smiling and talking about other things. Susan rests her right hand upon her left and continues to look at her hands. She looks up at Sheryl and vocalizes, “Hm.” With a smile, Sheryl says, “Hi,” warmly acknowledging her daughter. They share a back-and-forth of smiles and vocalizations, while Susan continues to rest her hands on the table with her fingers touching and exploring each other (for a total of 21 seconds). Then, she watches them intently for 5 seconds, as if entranced with them. Another observation during this session was the alternation of markedly different feeling contours (Stern, 1985, 1993). Quiet moments suddenly transition into episodes of fast and intense pounding, rising with force, then suddenly dropping, and rising again. These different emotional moments are connected by a quality of visual concentration. It is likely that there is a growing awareness of self-affectivity, a possible linking for Susan of herself as the agent of these different feeling states. Although she appears to be self-focused during her moments of stillness (gazing at her own hands), Susan gazes intently at Sheryl during pounding moments. From her side of the dyad, Sheryl attunes to her daughter’s pounding as soon as she becomes aware of the intensity of the infant’s self-focus. For example, after the quiet period described above, Susan started to pound so energetically that Sheryl immediately interrupted her own talking and said, “Oooo, what a lot of noise!” Again, Susan pounded



FIGURE 3. The second developmental period: Attentive pounding (33 to 34 weeks). In this sequence, Susan is pounding her own stationary hand while watching the stationary hand. This the first evidence of coordination between gazing, pounding, and other parts of her own body.

vigorously, looking Sheryl straight into the eyes, her whole body engaged in the action. As Sheryl said, “Oooo. Bang! Bang! Bang!” moving her head up and down in the same rhythm, Susan’s jaw dropped and she faintly smiled. After this segment, the feeling contour again changed dramatically when Susan stopped pounding and watched her hands for 12 seconds with a quality of intense concentration while Sheryl was quietly observing. After this serene break, the feeling contour changed yet again when Susan suddenly started to pound vigorously, alternating left and right arms, watching her hands. Next, she started to gaze at Sheryl, who then began to vocalize, matching the rhythm and intensity of the infant’s pounding. Following this, Susan forcefully threw her body back in the chair, smiling. Seeing this, Sheryl laughed and said, in a similar outburst of energy, “Wow! You make a lot of noise.” In summary, for the second developmental period, our impression is that Susan seems to be beginning to sense her own agency, suggested by her increased attention to her own actions and her noticing (via gaze and smiling) the attunement between her pounding actions and her mother’s pounding and vocalizing. One can see the outlines

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


of an emerging dyadic pattern in which the possibility exists for Susan to eventually link an awareness of her own intentions with an awareness of her mother’s intentions. This is reminiscent of Bruner’s (1983) idea of communication formats as “place holders” for future developmental additions and also to the dynamic systems ideas of multiple components developing at different rates as they self-organize into an attractor. Susan’s attention to both herself and to her mother is clearly a change from the first developmental period in which she primarily attuned with her mother and seemed relatively unaware of her own pounding. The mother’s attunement to Susan, however, continues to scaffold Susan’s attention. In the second developmental period, we can see how Susan’s own contrasting emotions seem to create pathways in her awareness that link different activities together.

The Third Developmental Period, Emergence of a Stable Pounding Frame: 35 to 37 Weeks
At 35 weeks, Sheryl indicates in her journal that the pounding (or “slapping”) has now become a game between them. She writes, “Mommy stumbled onto the ‘slap game’ with Susan and she plays with such fervor. I’ll slap the table, or my knee, with my hand. And she’ll slap the same with her hands. This will go on for 5–7 rounds, where Susan will put her whole body into the slap, staring directly at mommy the whole time.” Thus, the pounding actions seem to have evolved into a dyadically shared game or “frame” (Fogel, 1993), with each partner expecting certain reactions from the other partner and each partner implicitly aware of the other’s intentions. From our videos at 35 weeks, we can see the outlines of this frame beginning to form. Susan pounds twice, looking at her hand. Sheryl says, “Boo Boo” in the same rhythm. Susan looks at her mother immediately, with her jaw dropped, and pounds once. Sheryl taps twice, as Susan did before. Glancing at her own hand, Susan lightly pounds once, and immediately shifts her gaze to Sheryl’s hand. Sheryl taps once (as if in response), slides her hand to Susan’s hand and taps it. Susan’s gaze follows Sheryl’s hand as it covers Susan’s hand. Susan stares at the hands for 3 seconds until the toy moves and attracts her attention. The immediacy of the infant’s gaze shift and the duration of her gaze at mother’s hand after mother responded by tapping suggested to us that Susan implicitly expected an answer from her mother to her pounding movement. This expectation seems to reflect a growing awareness of her mother’s intentionality. Her pounding and Sheryl’s tapping actions follow each other sequentially in time, linked by their rhythm (note the contiguity of bold and italic fonts). It appears that this is the beginning of a sense of secondary intersubjectivity via coordinated joint attention, a shared sense of coagency, and the infant’s awareness of the link between her own and her mother’s actions (see Figure 4). At 36 weeks, it is clear that the game does not always unfold as expected. This observation not only suggests the emergence of a shared frame, but also that the infant begins to experiment with being an agent, able to refuse or to accept participation.



FIGURE 4. Third developmental period: The emergence of a stable pounding frame (35–37 weeks). There is more coordination between self and other, as Susan watches her own pounding hand, then looks at her mother’s tapping while she continues to pound, and then looks back at her own pounding hand.

Sheryl asks, “Wanna play a little slap game?” Susan looks at Sheryl’s tapping hand and then at her face. Sheryl repeats her request in various, creative ways. However, no matter how playful Sheryl is in her attempts to engage the infant in play, Susan just watches. Eventually, she pounds a few times and then smiles at her smiling mother. Shortly after, she stops and turns away.

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


But at 37 weeks, Susan does participate. Sheryl asks, “Show me how you pound,” tapping in a fast, staccato rhythm and gazing at her daughter. Susan looks into Sheryl’s eyes, while Sheryl repeats the request—moving her head and hand up and down in the same rhythm as her vocalization of the spoken sentence—and starts to smile. It is as if Sheryl is pounding with her head, hand, and speech. Susan now starts to pound with her right hand. She smiles—tilting her head and raising her eyebrows— and gazes intently into mother’s eyes. Sheryl exclaims, “Yeah! That’s a good girl!” Susan turns to look at her own hand as Sheryl taps twice. She alternates her gaze between Sheryl’s tapping hand and her own pounding hand, until she turns to the side, staring in the distance, forcefully pounds with both hands, looks at them, and shouts “Ah!” After this, she rests her head on her arm. For the first time, Susan alternates her gaze between her own and her mother’s hands, while continuing to pound, which we indicate with bold and italic together. This may enable Susan to notice the difference between her own and Sheryl’s intentional movements. Between 35 and 37 weeks, the mother’s behaviors also changed. First, her attunements to Susan’s actions became more accentuated. One example of this can be found in the description above. Another one was also observed at 37 weeks. Susan is pounding, while Sheryl vocalizes, “Bang! Bang!” moving her head, hand, and intonation in the same up-and-down contour. They smile at each other. Then, Susan pounds more forcefully, alternating her left and right hand. Sheryl now moves her head from left to right, continuing to vocalize rhythmically. As soon as she notices Sheryl’s left-to-right movements, Susan stops pounding and gazes into Sheryl’s eyes. They look at each other and smile, and Sheryl wrinkles her nose. Second, Sheryl also seems to accentuate the use of the word “you” more when addressing her infant. From the beginning of our observations, at 27 weeks, she often commented on Susan’s gaze direction, actions, likes and dislikes, and past and future events involving Susan, placing no special emphasis on the word “you.” For example, at 33 weeks, she says “You like to do that in the bathtub, don’t you? You like to really splash.” At 35 weeks, however, Sheryl begins to emphasize “you” to amplify the infant’s current actions. For instance, the infant makes a toy beep and mother comments enthusiastically, “Yeah! You did it! You’re making that noise now.” At 36 weeks, the same happens and mother says “You did that” and “You made it go beep.” At 37 weeks, when the infant makes the toy beep, mother repeats several times, “You made that noise!” emphasizing “you” each time. One interpretation of these changes in the mother’s behaviors toward Susan is that Sheryl is noticing Susan’s emerging awareness of being an active agent of her own pounding actions, and amplifying it with her actions and language. Another interpretation is that mother expects more awareness of self-agency to emerge at this age, and that she is providing a scaffold within which the infant can develop this awareness.



In summary, for the third developmental period in comparison with the second, it is clear that both mother and infant change in their behavior in relation to each other and that they achieve novel types of coordinated co-actions. Of particular interest with respect to our focus on the development of intersubjectivity is the infant’s growing ability to alternate and coordinate self and other-awareness, along with the mother’s novel use of the word “you.” There is no way to tell for certain from our data whether the mother intends to highlight the infant’s growing sense of agency and intersubjectivity or whether it is an implicit action that in some way reflects the mother’s sense of her infant’s developmental changes. Nevertheless, the infant seems to have a few glimpses into a sense of secondary intersubjectivity, scaffolded by the now stable pounding frame.

The Fourth Developmental Period, Emergence of Secondary Intersubjectivity: 38 to 40 Weeks
Unfortunately, observations at 38 and 39 weeks are missing, because mother and infant were visiting Susan’s grandmother. Sheryl notes in her journal, “This has been a good visit for Grandma, she got a lot of firsts.” Susan gives her first kiss, claps her hands, and learns how to shake her head “no.” These are all signs of a growing referential communication, that is, communication about some shared focus of attention (Camaioni et al., 2004). At 39 weeks, Sheryl writes, “Grandma marveled at how much [Susan] had grown, changed (physically and emotionally) since we had been home [at Grandma’s] the two weeks.” At 40 weeks, mother describes a new game, “Susan likes to play a game shaking her head ‘no’ when Mommy says ‘yes.’ She responds with a big smile and starts the game all over again. The beginnings of defiance? It’s cute anyway.” This description indicates that Susan’s sense of secondary intersubjectivity has spread from a few instances within the pounding game to become a stable and more pervasive feature of different types of frames with mother and with other people. Susan seems to understand that her mother has a different intention (yes) from her own (no) and creates a teasing game around that (cf. Reddy, 2001). We observed an instance of this new game at 40 weeks, following an interaction involving pounding. Susan glances at the table and then looks at Sheryl’s face. Raising her eyebrows, she starts to pound. Pounding the table top with flat hands, she follows Sheryl’s movements with her gaze. It appears as though she wants to initiate the pounding game. But Sheryl says, “I wanna show off and show how you can do pat-a-cake.” Susan stops and reaches for Sheryl’s face. Sheryl starts to sing and clap “pat-a-cake.” Continuing to stare intently at her singing and clapping mother, Susan starts to pound the table again. Continuing to pound, she shifts her gaze to her hands and then back to Sheryl, who says, “No, show them how you clap, okay?” She takes hold of Susan’s hands and claps them until they finish the song, both smiling. Sheryl starts again, clapping her hands demonstratively in front of Susan. This time, Susan kicks the rhythm against the bottom of the high chair. Sheryl laughs, “Are you doing it with

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


your feet?” Susan looks at Sheryl with her jaw dropped and continues to kick. As they end the song, Susan softly laughs. Sheryl mimics this and asks, “You’re not going to do it, are ya?” while slightly moving her head side to side and clapping her hands. Susan looks at Sheryl, tilts her head, and raises her eyebrows. She smiles and then shakes her head “no.” Sheryl smiles broadly and they start a game in which Sheryl playfully repeats the words “yes” and “no,” nodding and shaking her head. Susan shakes her head a few more times. They smile and laugh together. In this observation, the latter part of which is shown in Figure 5, the dyad reveals a different pattern within the pounding frame, with new roles for mother and infant and an apparently new awareness of the infant’s unique role and ability to choose, initiate, and refuse. Consistent with experimental studies on the development of infants’ awareness of others’ intentions at this age (e.g., Behne et al., 2005), Susan seems to guess Sheryl’s intention, but chooses to act differently. Susan now initiates her own unique expression, maintaining connection to Sheryl by pounding in the same rhythm. Sheryl appears to notice the cross-modal similarity between her daughter’s pounding and kicking movements and her own clapping, suggested by her laughter and her asking, “Are you doing it with your feet?” In summary, at 40 weeks, mother and infant have a different “feel” to us as observers (cf. Stern, 1985), indicative of a developmental transition to secondary intersubjectivity. This developmental change is also marked by observable shifts in the entire system of communication and self-awareness, both for mother and infant. The infant now seems to realize that she can intentionally act differently than Sheryl wants her to: she shakes her head “no,” laughs, and her vocalizations sound more word-like (e.g., she now clearly articulates “dadada”). She is able to smoothly coordinate her gaze between Sheryl and her pounding hands. Sheryl acts differently, too. She uses her voice more matter-of-factly, speaks faster and moves more with her entire body, in comparison to all previous sessions. Such changes in maternal communication patterns have been related to infants’ ability to engage in gestural and verbal “acts of meaning” (Bruner, 1983; Stern, 1985; Trevarthen, 1998). Sheryl writes, “She likes to get my attention by wrinkling her nose into a funny face. It’s her personality starting to blossom. She really is a happy baby.”

Discussion Summary of Findings
The story of Susan and Sheryl provides one possible developmental pathway of the process of change in secondary intersubjectivity within the mother-infant relationship around the 9-month developmental transition. Our goal, taking a dynamic systems perspective, was to examine the historical unfolding of the change process within the dyad in order to better understand how a re-organization of relationship components may come about to create an emergent psychological milestone.



FIGURE 5. Fourth developmental period: The emergence of secondary intersubjectivity (38–40 weeks). Susan looks at Sheryl (who wants Susan to play pat-a-cake), tilts her head, and raises her eyebrows. She smiles and then shakes her head “no.” They smile and laugh together.

During the first developmental period, 26–32 weeks, the mother’s co-orientations with Susan’s pounding established an innovation of helping to focus the infant’s attention to her own movements, at least occasionally (Stern, 1985, 1993). Sheryl’s spontaneous attunements—mainly mimicking the infant’s feeling contours with her voice—served to amplify the infant’s movements and to temporarily bring them into

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


the infant’s awareness. They seemed to enhance the infant’s incipient awareness of herself as the agent of the pounding actions, suggested by her gazing at mother with her jaw dropped after Sheryl vocalized in tune with her pounding (see Figure 6 [a]). Stern (1985, 1993) has suggested that cross-modal attunements are particularly important to the infant’s developing sense of intersubjectivity. Attunement behaviors “. . . recast the event and shift the focus of attention to [. . .] the quality of feeling that is being shared” (Stern, 1985, p. 142). According to the intersensory redundancy hypothesis (Bahrick & Lickliter, 2000), cross-modal sensory coordination enhances attention to those sensations in both pre- and post-natal development. In our observations, cross-modal co-orientations were scaffolded by the mother and served to stabilize the infant’s hand and eye movements into a pattern of focused pounding. It is this growing stability that is the signature of an attractor or frame beginning to form in the communication system. This coordinative system was not completely stable in the first developmental period. When Sheryl co-oriented less with the pounding, between 29 and 32 weeks, Susan focused less on her pounding movements, which strengthens our impression that the mother’s actions serve to stabilize and regulate the infant’s innovative selfawareness of her own actions. Nevertheless, the infant increasingly glanced at her pounding hands and at Sheryl’s face before or after pounding, suggesting an emerging attractor for more self-sustained attention to her pounding actions and of the infant’s emerging initiative in engaging the mother in her pounding activities. A second developmental period, at 33 and 34 weeks, was marked by Susan’s increased stability of attention to her pounding and by more variations in emotional intensity than before. Susan alternated strikingly focused and deliberate pounding with prolonged pauses during which she was not pounding but quietly focused on her hands. During vigorous pounding, Susan intently gazed at Sheryl, who again attuned to the pounding vocally and through body movements. It is likely that these dyadic emotional shifts played a role in the felt experience of being with the self-regulating other, over and above the sense of motor and perceptual coordination between attention to self and to mother (see Figure 6 [b]). These types of shared dyadic emotional periods have been described as “moments of meeting” (Stern, 1998) or dyadic states of consciousness (Tronick, 1998) and are hypothesized to serve the developmental function of creating shared psychological states upon which future forms of coordination depend. These moments of meeting were the innovations that emerged in the second period. This hypothesis makes sense because what follows, between 35 and 37 weeks during the third developmental period, is the emergence of a stable pounding frame involving mutual expectations and coordinated co-actions. Susan seems to realize, “Whenever I pound, Mother will tap.” Her gaze at mother’s hands after she herself starts to pound implies an expectation of mother replying to her movements in the same rhythm. The rhythm of the pounding hands may have helped this infant and mother to further develop and stabilize shared meanings of how their mutual pounding frame unfolds, affording the infant with a sense of agency to alter the flow of events in the pounding frame. From the other side of the dyad, the mother began to call the pounding a “slap game,” and emphasized the word “you,” suggesting an innovative mutual expectation of their response to each other (see Figure 6 [c]). This


Mother attunes to infant Mother attunes to pounding





Own hand Mother


Own hand Mother Infant attunes Infant attunes vigorously quietly (b) Developmental Change to Emergent Secondary Intersubjectivity Gaze Teasing Own hand Refusing Mother

Co-attunement, shared emotions Gaze Temporal contiguity between self and mother reference Own hand Infant attunes quietly (c)

Mother Infant attunes vigorously

New postures, tones of voice


FIGURE 6. (a) The first developmental phase (26–32 weeks). The mother’s attunement creates an emotional “container” that helps the infant self-regulate by attending to her own pounding actions and also to her mother’s face and pounding actions. When there is no maternal attunement, the infants does not attend to mother, nor to her own pounding hands. (b) The second developmental phase (33–34 weeks). Infant begins to co-attune with mother, creating two different types of contours: one more quiet and the other more vigorous and more likely to be shared with mother. (c) Third developmental phase (35–37 weeks). There is a closer contiguity between infant gazing at self and at mother, the emergence of a stable pounding frame that contains the actions and emotions, and increasingly shared intentions. The first instance of secondary intersubjectivity occurs at the end of this period. (d) Fourth developmental period (38–40 weeks). This marks the emergence of a new frame for secondary intersubjectivity in which both infant’s and mother’s behaviors have changed. New patterns emerge such as teasing, refusing, changed use of the pronoun “you” by the mother, and shifts of expression and tone of voice.

illustrates a novel reorganization of many components of the pounding and the dyadic nature of the infant’s growing self-awareness. Research in music perception and mother-infant interaction have shown exquisite sensitivity to rhythm patterns as a way to establish and maintain coordinated co-action and shared emotion (Jaffe, Beebe, Feldstein, Crown, & Jasnow, 2001; Stern, 2001; Trevarthen, 1998).

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


The developmental transition to widespread and stable sense of secondary intersubjectivity appears to occur in the fourth developmental period, between 38 and 40 weeks. During this period, a qualitatively different communication pattern emerged and stabilized in the dyad: both mother and infant began to behave differently than before—in posture, tone of voice, and communicative expressions—suggesting true developmental change. By participating in pat-a-cake by pounding or kicking while refusing to clap, the infant shows that she understands the mother’s intention but chooses to engage in the game on her own terms. The rhythm of the game is similar between the members of the dyad but the exact form of its enactment is different, to mother’s and infant’s great enjoyment. Both appear to have developed a new understanding of themselves and how they relate to each other (see Figure 6 [d]). These observations concur with those of Trevarthen and Hubley (1978) who observed a similar novel sense of confidence and understanding of intention in the infant Tracey around 9 months of age. They are also reminiscent of Reddy’s (2001; Reddy, Hay, Murray, & Trevarthen, 1993) observations of teasing games, during which infants deliberately provoke their partners to mischievously disrupt the others’ ongoing actions, not comply with a previously accepted prohibition, or disrupt normally accepted gestures and routines. Teasing presumes secondary intersubjectivity. During such provocations, infants have also been observed to immensely enjoy their partners’ exaggerated protests, as during Susan’s “shaking the head ‘no’” game.

Inferences about the Process of Developmental Change
From these observations, we can infer systematic regularities in the process of change. In each developmental period, there appears to have been some kind of dyadic innovation that emerged via the coordinated and mutually amplifying action of the mother and infant. In the first developmental period, for example, Sheryl’s attunements seem to temporarily stabilize Susan’s attention to her own action. The ability to self-attune, crucial to emerging self and other-awareness, becomes a dynamically stable attractor by the second period, in which Susan attends consistently to her own and her mother’s behavior. This leads, in the second developmental period, to an emerging attractor of coordinated action and attention across multiple modalities of emotion, action, and gazing, an innovation that becomes the stable pounding frame in the third period. Innovation in the third period involved the increasing contiguity of self and other actions, brief glimpses of secondary intersubjectivity during the pounding frame, and changes in the mother’s behavior (such as emphasizing the word “you”). These innovations seem to lead to the consolidation and spread of secondary intersubjectivity to other frames in the mother-infant relationships (and in other family relationships) in the fourth period. These observations fit well with our previous research on the developmental change process. In a larger sample (n = 13) of change in infants between 2 and 6 months (Fogel et al., 2006), we found that innovations in one developmental period always preceded and foreshadowed the emergence of new frames in the next period. This seems to be the chief mechanism by which the dyad conserves its own history



while at the same time gradually transforming its relationship. Second, we found that major developmental change, the fourth developmental period in this study, always had the characteristic of “permeability.” This means, as we observed with the infant Susan as well, that multiple frames in the relationship system began to blend as the history of innovations spreads across the entire system. We found, for all of our 13 dyads, that permeability, and hence developmental change and the emergence of new frames, occurred relatively rapidly, within one or two sessions. This rapid reorganization of the entire system of frames, the hallmark of a developmental change, is not, however, discontinuous or non-linear. One can observe the threads of change occurring systematically during each developmental period, with new attractors that are built from historically familiar and readily accessible components. It is as if the dyad can change quickly when it is ready, but readiness implies carrying the familiar existing patterns of co-action with them (in such a way as to avoid catastrophic non-linear, unprecedented) transition. Research on clinical cases and on developmental psychopathology suggests that non-linear change in human development is most often experienced by participants as traumatic with deleterious psychological consequences. Put another way, normally developing social relationships create bridges between the past and future that buffer participants from precipitous changes (cf. Fogel et al., 2006).

One advantage of our qualitative microgenetic research approach is the opportunity to trace developmental change. Within a single dyad, we can see how new forms of dyadic communication emerge in each different developmental period. More crucially, however, we can see how each new developmental period depends upon the specifics of what occurred earlier. This relational-historical perspective is missing in much of developmental science but it is central to understanding the process of how development unfolds over time. Siegler’s microgenetic studies (cited earlier), to take one example, have contributed much to the understanding of how children learn novel cognitive strategies (e.g., math). We cannot generalize these findings to larger populations. Focusing on a small number of observations from a single dyad from a dynamic systems perspective, however, is not a limitation but rather a strength because it allows for an in-depth examination of the process of change in the whole system of communication. The ability to observe a system before, during, and after a change using a microgenetic design provides insights about change that are generative if not generalizable. They are generative in the sense that our findings of particular processes of mutual attunement— rhythm and affect matching—as amplifiers for infant attention, the emergence of stable attractors for shared awareness as a foundation for later forms of coordination, and our particular description of the four developmental periods could be applied to study other dyads across the same transition. According to dynamic systems principles, generalities about the population must emerge by finding out what is common across cases, and not by statistical averaging and group-based correlational models (Bergman, Cairns, & Nilsson, 2000; Fogel, 1990; Thelen, 1990). Future work using

The Developmental Transition to Secondary Intersubjectivity in the Second Half Year


this approach can also facilitate understanding of the specific historical processes in cases where development is derailed or delayed.

This study was supported by grants to Alan Fogel by the National Institutes of Health (R01 HD21036) and the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH48680 and MH 57669). We thank Susan and her mother for their participation in this study. The authors thank Manuela Lavelli for her helpful comments on this paper. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alan Fogel, Department of Psychology, University of Utah, 380 South 1530 East, Salt Lake City, UT, 84112-0251, USA.

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The Spotlight Program: An Integrative Approach to Teaching Social Pragmatics Using Dramatic Principles and Techniques
Matthew D. Lerner
Spotlight Program, North Shore Arc Danvers, MA Department of Psychology University of Virginia mlerner@virginia.edu

Karen Levine
Harvard Medical School Autism & Developmental Disabilities Program Center for Child and Adolescent Development (CCAD) Cambridge Health Alliance klevine@challiance.org

Abstract: Effective techniques for social pragmatic development for adolescents with Asperger syndrome have been elusive in the existing body of research literature. Attempts to structure interventions that lead to effective generalization of skills beyond the clinical setting have been particularly inconclusive. This paper outlines the development of a novel theoretically-based, affectively-driven intervention: the Drama-based Social Pragmatic Intervention approach designed to address the concerns present in existing research. Theoretical principles as well as specific activities and basic curriculum structure are presented. Additionally, triumphs and challenges of a program that has successfully used this approach for several years are presented.

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism in which individuals have average to above average intelligence, but display atypical social development. This disorder, along with autism in general, has shown a marked increase in incidence in recent years (YearginAllsop et al., 2003), with the most recent incidence rates estimated to be one in 150 children (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007). Children with Asperger syndrome lack typical abilities in several social domains including social pragmatics, reciprocal interaction, theory of mind, and non-verbal cue use and recognition (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [4th ed.]). These deficits are associated with impairment in social-emotional functioning that can have substantially detrimental effects on social functioning, social development, and hence quality of life.




Similarly, children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome have an abnormally high incidence of development of co-occurring conditions, including severe social anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder (Klin & Volkmar, 1997). These concerns are acutely felt in Massachusetts, where the large organized cohort of families with children on the autism spectrum has become increasingly vocal about the need for such services. This activity is further evinced by the parent-initiated passage in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of An Act to Address the Special Educational Needs of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders within the educational programs of children with an autism spectrum diagnosis. (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71B, § 3, 2006). This law includes stipulations that social-communication goals be addressed in the Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) of every student in Massachusetts with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. As such, effective interventions to address these needs—often called “social skills” or “social pragmatics” interventions—for high-functioning adolescents with Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism are clearly needed. There have been a variety of studies assessing the effectiveness of traditional models of social pragmatics programs for children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism, with presently inconclusive aggregate results (Barry et al., 2003; Blacher, Kraemer, & Schalow, 2003; Solomon, Goodlin-Jones, & Anders, 2004; Tsatsanis, Foley, & Donehower, 2004). These studies have generally focused on non-verbal cue reading and comprehension, decreased presentation of cooccurring symptomatology, and social communication (Barnhill, Cook, Tebbenkamp, & Myles, 2002; Solomon et al., 2004; Blacher et al., 2003). Although statistically significant gains have been reported via direct observation during therapeutic sessions, these studies have shown disappointing results as far as generalized use of learned skills outside of the therapeutic context (Barry et al., 2003; Blacher et al., 2003). Additionally, given the prevalence of secondary diagnoses such as depression in the population (Klin & Volkmar, 1997; Blacher, et al., 2003), it is imperative that programs at the very least consider such factors in their design. In response to these needs and concerns, we developed a theoretically informed, developmentally based, affectively driven, social pragmatics intervention program model designed specifically to respond to the concerns present in the literature as well as those expressed by families. This program is called Spotlight. Created in 2004, The Spotlight Program is a social pragmatics program offered by the North Shore Arc, a community-based agency offering programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families, under the clinical guidance of one of us. Spotlight students range in age from 9 to 20 years old, and primarily carry diagnoses of high functioning autism, Asperger syndrome, and related disorders. Spotlight offers an integrative approach to teaching social pragmatic skills to such students. The program integrates three core elements in the implementation of its curriculum: 1) a unique social pragmatics teaching method involving use of affectively motivating acting games and dramatic training adapted for this age/population, 2) fostering of positive social reinforcement through strong relationships built between the students and the staff, as well as between the students themselves, and 3) use of strong age-appropriate motivators such as video games and noncompetitive physical activity. Spotlight uniquely integrates these elements to facilitate growth in social pragmatic skills. Participants learn

The Spotlight Program


and use their ever-increasing social pragmatic skills within this setting and gain motivation to begin to generalize them across other settings, including home and school. There exist several intervention models currently available that operate on a similar understanding of the needs of children with Asperger syndrome. For instance, McAfee (2002) and Winner (2000) espouse the value of understanding and regulation of emotional processes in social contexts, in conjunction with modeling and training of specific instrumental social skills (e.g., conversation initiation and maintenance), as valuable components of social skills intervention. Further, Coucouvanis (2005) has recently developed an intervention model entitled Super Skills. This model involves discrete assessment of specific areas of social skill deficit in individual students, coupled with a customizable activity set designed to target the identified areas of difficulty. These intervention models hold some promise for producing studies that may surmount the limited evidence of effectiveness present in the current literature on social skills intervention. However, they remain largely embedded in the principles that have driven traditional models of social skills intervention: that children with socialemotional deficits require the ability to consciously identify and deconstruct specific social situations (and their instrumental component parts) in order to be able to develop functionally generalized social skills; consequently the curriculum of social skills intervention should based in overt teaching of these social algorithms. Conversely, Spotlight is based on the principle that children with Asperger syndrome can most effectively develop increased social pragmatic skills through high motivation, affect-based, developmentally appropriate, and individually tailored interactions. There are two primary individual treatment approaches for children on the autism spectrum also based in this fundamental principle, from which much of the theoretical and some of the practical foundations of the program are derived. Greenspan and Wieder (1998, 2006) have developed an intervention, Floortime, within a comprehensive model, the DIR (Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-based) model, with strong support for effectiveness in terms of long-term developmental outcomes (e.g., Greenspan & Wieder, 1997; Greenspan, 2000). Floortime is based on intensive periods of adult-child engagement wherein the adult works with the child one-to-one, fostering emotional connection through following the child’s lead and interests, and then gradually expands and playfully pushes the child through a series of well described techniques. We developed Spotlight, in part, through capitalizing on the effectiveness of helping children on the autism spectrum to develop through building strong relationships. These relationships are developed both between staff and children, as well as between peers, and are based on intensive affectively-based, high motivation interactions. Further, the incorporation of videogames and the structured incorporation of favorite topics and passionate areas of interest into many of the games is much like Floortime in terms of maximizing the children’s motivation by following their interests. Where Spotlight is most different from Floortime is that many of the activities are pre-determined by the staff, and, while they leave a great deal of room for individual differences, they have discrete rules and parameters designed to foster the development of specific skills. Spotlight also incorporates several of the related principals of Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), developed by S. Gutstein and R. Sheely (2002; Gutstein,



2000). RDI, like Floortime, builds social pragmatic skills in children with autism spectrum disorders through warm, emotionally connected, developmentally tailored adult-child interactions, and has had some initial evidence of effectiveness in terms of social-emotional outcomes (Gutstein, 2005; Gutstein, in press; Gutstein, Burgess, & Montfort, in submission). Like Spotlight, and unlike Floortime, these interactions are adult-led and developed within a structured framework designed to promote naturalistic use of fluid reciprocal nonverbal social pragmatic skills (e.g., eye contact, gesture, timing, body orientation) (Gutstein & Whitney, 2002). The activities used in the RDI model are designed for an adult and a child, or, in the more advanced activities, for an adult and two children. While these activities build reciprocity, the activities in the first two levels are adult-led, and the adult serves as the Master while the child is the Apprentice. In the third level, the adult serves as more of a Coach to pairs of children. Many of these activities are similar to those used in drama games as well as in Spotlight. It is no coincidence that many of the activities of RDI, Spotlight, and acting training are similar, as the core goals involved in training novice actors to become more fluent in their presentation are consistent with the goals involved in fostering the development of social pragmatic skills in children for whom such skill learning does not come naturally. A large body of theatre/acting games in the public domain is designed to hone the skills of actors in reading each others’ subtle, unspoken nonverbal cues. Many of these games have been “translated” into several books of drama games for children (e.g., Bany-Winters, 1997; Spolin, 1999). For example, Pass the Clap, described below, is a traditional drama warm-up game, described in several drama books including those mentioned above, and is consistent with several of the activities involved in building nonverbal coordinated actions between child and adult in Gutstein and Sheely’s RDI model (e.g., Buddy Walkers, Word Crash). The Spotlight activities differ from RDI most particularly in that they are designed to be played in small groups of children, specifically, with the children becoming the leaders and the adults being facilitators, rather than master/apprentice, adult-child roles highlighted throughout many of the RDI activities. Further, many activities that are more language-based are used in Spotlight than in RDI, incorporating teaching of higher level conversational skills through more advanced language-based acting games. These differences in emphasis may be primarily because RDI, while including some more advanced and small group activities, is currently focused largely on the earlier phases of pragmatic development, with a particular emphasis on work between parent and child, while Spotlight was developed at the outset as an approach for groups of teens with Asperger syndrome.

Specific Examples of Activities
Drama games are uniquely designed as semi-structured activities that help actors develop skills in specific areas of interaction (e.g., timing, reciprocity). At the same time, these activities structurally eliminate the need for, and cognitive load involved in, use of other areas (e.g., content development, complex non-verbal cue reading). In Spotlight, this approach provides a wealth of useful and high motivation activities

The Spotlight Program


that, when appropriately adapted, can not only be readily accessed by people with compromised social processing and communication systems, but that are also especially effective in helping individuals with social difficulties to practice specific social functions in semi-structured contexts. For example, the game Pass the Clap is played with members in a circle. One member starts, turns to the person next to him, and establishes eye contact. While doing so, the two must attempt to clap simultaneously, with the initial member being the “sender” and the other participant being the “receiver.” The receiver then immediately becomes the sender, turning to the following person in the circle and “sending the clap,” which should be coordinated with eye contact, around the circle in this way. In this game, a valuable social pragmatic skill is repeatedly targeted, namely coordinated reciprocal social interaction through mutual timing of an action with another person, concurrent with use of eye contact. While coordination of eye contact is a stated goal, participants also tend to seek out eye contact spontaneously, as close attention to the partner’s face/eyes is key to anticipating the partner’s beginning to clap and thereby achieving simultaneous clapping. Hence the use of eye contact within this activity becomes immediately functional. Importantly, practice of this coordination, and success in this game, is achieved without requiring participants to simultaneously engage in other aspects of interaction. These components include generating or processing language, figuring out where to stand, topic initiation and maintenance, focusing on voice tone, or any of the many other pragmatic elements of communication that, as a combined whole, are difficult for this population to process. This game, like all the games included in Spotlight, can be tailored to the level of individuals within a group. They can be utilized by children at a variety of skill levels, and can also be made increasingly challenging as participants’ skill levels develop. For example, additional challenges include modeling and encouraging the clap to be sent back and forth in either direction, adding rhythmic clapping, sending it across the circle randomly, etc. These various augmentations require more advanced coordinated timing using eye contact, and encourage longer sustained social vigilance to other group members due to the unpredictability of when one might receive the clap. This game, while accessible to children who are nonverbal and significantly impacted by autism, is challenging in its more advanced forms for even the most socially skilled, and virtually always ends up in a tangled up clapping series with all participants laughing. The shared group effort and mutual enjoyable affect adds to the otherwise limited library of positive social experiences of participants, and engenders motivation to try again. Dozens of games that isolate coordinated use of various social functions can be found in drama and theatre books (e.g., Spolin, 1999; Bany-Winters, 1997). Another such activity that targets more complex elements of social interaction is Freeze. In this activity, adapted for therapeutic use from an existing improvisation game, two group members are chosen to go onto a designated stage area. The group determines a setting in which they are to begin an improvised scene (e.g., jungle, grocery store, classroom). When a staff member calls out “action,” the pair must begin acting out the scene. The scene continues until a staff person calls out “freeze,” at which point the pair freezes in whatever position they are in at the time. Another group member is chosen who must then go to the stage area and “tag out” one of the



pair. The “tagged out” person leaves the scene and joins the audience. The new scene partner assumes, or inherits, the physical position and location of the tagged out person. A staff member calls out “action,” at which point the two group members commence a new and different scene. This new scene is started by the new scene partner, who bases the scene choice on his/her physical position (e.g., raised arms could be catching an object falling from the sky, pleading with the scene partner, carrying a large object, etc.). The scene partner who has remained in the scene must follow the lead of the new scene partner. As such, they must follow the “no saying no” principle of improvisation (e.g., if the new scene partner says, “what are we doing in this jungle?” the other partner cannot say “no” by denying that they are in the jungle or by claiming they are elsewhere). This activity clearly addresses a more complex set of social pragmatic skills and understanding. For instance, tone of voice, social timing, receptive non-verbal cue use, and creative social expression are targeted by all participants in the activity. Moreover, social initiation and flexibility are required of the person who tags in and starts the scene, while set shifting and Theory of Mind are distilled in the person who remains in the scene. All this is accomplished while at the same time mitigating the social demands of sustained topic maintenance, extended social flexibility, aversive social consequence, and conversational completion (i.e., how to appropriately terminate an interaction), which are known difficulties for those with Asperger syndrome. The complementarity of focusing on one set of difficult components of interaction while mitigating or eliminating others allows participants to achieve success in social interaction, as the interaction is not at the usual level of multi-channel complexity, which often eludes them. Activities such as Freeze isolate these elements of social interaction in a way that is engaging and more comprehensible than typical, naturally occurring social interactions to the child involved. As such, primary and secondary challenges that are apparent in typical social settings often appear mitigated as the activities foster successful participation and opportunities emerge to focus on specific areas of social-emotional need. Co-occurring depression and anxiety, for instance, are extremely common among the Asperger syndrome population, particularly during adolescence (Blacher et al., 2003), as are affective and sensory dysregulation. During activities such as Freeze, many participants who present with substantial aversion to interaction or who experience severe social anxiety are able to surmount these difficulties for discrete periods of time. It is hypothesized that the highly rule-based nature of the game, the limited channels of social pragmatics required, as well as the understanding that the activity is timelimited and has fixed parameters, allows students to experience a systematic desensitization to social aversion as they engage in successful participation. Similarly, students are able to use participation in such activities to try managing difficult social situations, such as bullying. Though sometimes facilitated, we have often observed that this exploration is frequently child-initiated, and has led to notable progress by students in development of strategies to manage these experiences. Most encouraging is the fact that parents, teachers, and students themselves frequently report spontaneous use of these new strategies in live social situations such as school and other social environments.

The Spotlight Program


Clinical & Programmatic Model
Program semesters run for 10 weeks during the school year and six weeks during the summer program, employing weekly and daily sessions respectively, and costing an average of $20–$25 per hour, depending on each student’s frequency of enrollment. After school, weekend, and summer sessions are 2, 3 and 5 hours each (with a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 145 hours spent in session over the course of a semester), providing for ample semi-structured free time within the overall structure of the various activities. In the context of the program, the staff addresses both the generalized needs of the population as well as the specific needs of individual students. Group goals include attention to tone of voice, perspective-taking, working together, expressive and receptive body language, “thinking on your feet,” and focus. These goals are addressed through the curriculum in a series of ways. First, the group is introduced to the goal of the day through a meeting in which everyone is encouraged to contribute his or her understanding of the goal’s meaning. Then, a group consensus is reached on a broader meaning of the goal, at which point the activities commence. All activities of each session are specifically crafted to address the day’s goal in a variety of ways, which encourages the students to discover and refine their capacity to achieve them (e.g., a focus day would entail activities that involve focusing on internal thoughts, other people’s actions, different parts of one’s body, and staying focused more generally). However, the students are not asked to verbally process these achievements at the time, as the intention throughout the session is primarily active participation. Only at the end of the session—once the goal has been worked on through various activities and summarily achieved—are students required to note times in which they have successfully used the goal of the day. They do this through filling out a simple daily Self-Evaluation Form where they rate themselves across various measures on a scale of 1–5, and through an end-of-session wrap-up meeting in which students are encouraged to articulate instances of use of the goal throughout the day. Individual student goals are addressed in two ways. First, they are addressed through the various activities; for example, a student who has difficulty with social referencing and turn-taking may be encouraged to participate in an activity in which these elements are crucial. The student is then socially reinforced for making a positive contribution through the specified activity (e.g., social praise, “high fiving,” or other methods appropriate to the individual student’s preference). Second, individual goals are addressed through social scaffolding by the staff. This process is achieved through a high counselor-to-student ratio (ours is 1:3) and involves closely attending to the interactions of individuals in the group. When a conflict or social misinterpretation arises during this time, the counselor immediately intervenes, usually through a process of social translation, wherein the students are led to discover what was missed in the interaction (and what was realized). Therefore, students are provided in vivo social learning instead of simply being taught decontextualized skills, leading to greater generalization from the session. In processing emotionally complex situations, staff are trained to employ the affirmative (i.e., no power struggles) approach, consistent with current strategies for children with complex social and regulatory challenges,



such as the Collaborative Problem-Solving model (Greene, 2005). Sometimes peer interactions are too emotionally charged to be effectively addressed in this way, so more directive cognitive and behavioral strategies consistent with current practice for this population (Attwood, 2003) are used to address specific concerns. Progress in terms of these various goals is assessed collaboratively with parents, program staff, and, when appropriate, with other providers such as schools and therapists. Staff make daily observations regarding the student’s behaviors and progress and include them in a 2–3 page typed Communication Sheet. This sheet is placed in the student’s Communication Binder, which goes home after each session. Parents and other involved providers are then strongly encouraged to read through this binder to both spur conversation about the program with their children and to provide their own observations and comments in the Notes from Home section. Through this mechanism, parents and staff can be equal partners in the assessment of progress and development of goals.

Support for Progress
We began the program in the summer of 2004 with four staff serving nine students, ages 11–15 and with a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, in an intensive summer program setting. Due to overwhelmingly positive response from these original nine families and the many therapeutic and educational professionals who came to observe throughout the summer, the North Shore Arc opted to continue the program as a yearround after school, weekend, and vacation service. Through these iterations, Spotlight has served more than 200 students from more than three dozen school districts over the past two and a half years. At the time of this writing, Spotlight is currently employing a dozen staff annually and two dozen during the summer months, and is serving roughly 100 students, making it one of the largest social pragmatics programs in Massachusetts. Below are our triumphs and challenges thus far. Children’s progress. The number of families reporting progress has been substantial, with aggregate estimates of satisfaction at 93% based upon parent-completed satisfaction surveys (n = 82) and overall annualized within-semester attrition rates between 2%–3%. Beginning with the first nine students, whose initial survey results placed satisfaction near 100% and whose attrition rate was 0%, reports from families, schools, clinicians, individuals, and social settings have been promising. Most parents have reported substantial gains in their children in the area of independent socialseeking behavior, as well as marked increases in independent use of non-verbal skills such as eye contact, body language, and tone of voice without the need for adult verbal prompting. Many schools have reported substantial gains in student success in collaborative activities, adaptability to change, and overall social achievement. Several students have joined various socially-engaging school activities such as chess club, debate team, and track. Students themselves have consistently reported lower incidence of depression and greater social confidence; indeed, several students who have come to the program during or immediately following hospitalization due to acute and suicidal depression have not experienced relapse to this state in their years of atten-

The Spotlight Program


dance. Most notable have been the independent social successes and friendships developed by the students, many of which have sustained outside of the program. School funding. Due to the degree of reported social-emotional development achieved through participation in the program, an increasing number of students are funded by their school districts to participate in Spotlight as a program to address social and communication goals in their IEPs. While two of the original nine students were school-funded, this past summer (2006) more than half of the nearly 60 students were fully funded by their respective school districts for summer placement, and current response indicates a similar rate for upcoming semesters. After-school funding has grown more slowly, but has nonetheless done so steadily. Family support. Parents’ satisfaction and investment in the program has been extremely high. The substantial degree of communication between the program and individual families (via the aforementioned Communication Sheets as well as through direct family contact when appropriate) has facilitated a community atmosphere for families in which they develop connections to both the program and each other. To foster this, we have created a Parent Advisory Committee (PAC). This PAC meets monthly to review developments in the program, advise program staff on direction and need, plan various social activities (called Spotlight Events) for students in the program, and to participate in an ad hoc support group. Enrollment. Based upon the positive responses that the program received with the initial population of students, Spotlight has expanded the range of children served. First, Spotlight has expanded the age group. Currently, the program serves students between the ages of 9 and 20 years old. We have found that these seem to be the ages within which the program is optimally effective, with accessibility of curriculum and appropriateness of instruction being concerns for older and younger students respectively. Second, Spotlight has expanded in terms of the range of disorders served. Through pilot groups within the program, we have been able to explore whether the intervention approach is appropriate for a variety of clinical populations. We have been very pleased to find that the intervention is enjoyable and anecdotally effective for a much wider range of populations than we had initially suspected. Such populations have included children with non-verbal learning disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), PDD-Not Otherwise Specified, autism, Williams syndrome, mental retardation, and subclinical social withdrawal. Finally, we have been able to serve a wide population as far as geographic region. Originally limited to the North Shore of the Boston area, Spotlight has now served students from across eastern Massachusetts and into southern New Hampshire. We have expanded to several satellite sites in the region as well to expand accessibility to the program. Training and consultation. A recent development has been the call from school, medical, and community-based agencies for training and consultation in the program model. Thanks to the success of the program and the tireless advocacy of the parents involved, a number of organizations have sought input on how to integrate the unique model employed at Spotlight into their own programming. We have recently begun to offer a range of new auxiliary services to address this need, and to make the program



more widely available, including in-house training, called Spotlight Backstage, for clinicians, families, and educators. Research. Due to these developments, Spotlight has been approached by a number of research organizations seeking collaboration. Organizations have included Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Boston University. Spotlight is currently involved in a number of research projects with collaborators investigating intervention effectiveness, and, in conjunction with the Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School, has recently been awarded an $80,000 grant from Bank of America’s Noonan Fund for a project to examine the specific effectiveness of the Spotlight Program, as well as the degree of generalization of targeted skills to non-program settings, for target populations. This particular project, run through Cambridge Health Alliance, will provide quantitative data using established measures to compare outcomes on relevant dimensions (e.g., depression rates, non-verbal cue use and reading, social responsiveness) to a group of treatment-naïve Spotlight participants to a group of population-matched controls.

Tracking children to monitor maintenance and generalized use of learned skills. Though Spotlight employs an extensive qualitative documentation process for each student in each session of the program, we have had difficulty adequately implementing a quantitative system for tracking individual progress. However, the current research initiatives mentioned above are designed to target this challenge, and we expect them to facilitate greater clarity and standardization in this area. Training teachers. Overall, Spotlight has been remarkably fortunate to find dedicated, passionate, and talented staff people to work in the programs. However, as the program grows, it is increasingly clear that a more formalized training procedure and module should be developed for more rapid dissemination and hiring. Development of this training has been challenging, as the multifarious nature of student needs has ensured ongoing difficulty in a directive and prescriptive training protocol. Nonetheless, such a protocol is currently under development, with hopes for in-house implementation in coming months. Parent training. Though parent involvement in Spotlight has been high, opportunities for effective parent training have been difficult. The level of parent interest in such training has been variable but consistent, with a particular focus on the need for home-based carry-over for more effective generalization of skills. Though reports of skill generalization have been encouraging, it is clear that more parent training is needed. Therefore, we are working on site-based and individualized parent training modules that will be made available as soon as possible. Managing growth. Growing interest in Spotlight has been substantial. The program has grown more than 10 times in size over only two and a half years, a result which has established clinical and community credibility and has garnered a remarkable level of support. However, the resulting issues is the need for quality control, which has become increasingly difficult to maintain with rapidly increasing enroll-

The Spotlight Program


ment numbers, population diversity, and geographic availability. We have thus far been able to keep pace with growth via adequate and appropriate staffing, but it is evident that structurally the program is in a very different form than it was at the outset. We hope the program is similarly effective as it develops through its current and upcoming incarnations. The chance to provide effective social skills programming to students who need it greatly, but might otherwise be resistant, is extremely exciting. The continued interest of so many families, the progress and enjoyment of individual students, and the ongoing and ever-increasing support of community and school collaborators have been most exciting. We are facing new and emerging challenges almost daily, but these promising initial findings and public support are strongly encouraging in terms of continued growth and interest.

The authors would like to thank the staff of the North Shore Arc and the Spotlight Program for their tireless work in support of individuals with Asperger syndrome and related disorders. We are also grateful for the generous support of Bank of America’s Deborah Munroe Noonan Fund and the Child & Adolescent Neuropsychiatric Research Program at Cambridge Health Alliance, through which foundational empirical support for the Drama-based Social Pragmatic Intervention approach has been made possible.

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Greene, R (2005). The explosive child: A new approach for understanding and parenting easily frustrated, chronically inflexible children. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Greenspan, S. I. (2000). Children with autistic spectrum disorders: Individual differences, affect, interaction, and outcomes. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 20(5), 675–703. Greenspan, S. I., & Wieder, S. (1997) Developmental patterns and outcomes in infants and children with disorders in relating and communication: A chart review of 200 cases of children with autistic spectrum disorders. The Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders, 1(1), 87–141. Greenspan S. I., & Wieder, S. (1998). The child with special needs: Intellectual and emotional growth. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Longman. Greenspan, S. I. & Wieder, S., Engaging autism. (2006). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, The Perseus Books Group. Gutstein, S. E. (2000). Autism/Asperger’s: Solving the relationship puzzle. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons, Inc. Gutstein, S. E. (2005). Relationship development intervention. developing a treatment program to address the unique social and emotional deficits in autism spectrum disorders. Autism Spectrum Quarterly, Winter 2005. Gutstein, S. E. (in press). Preliminary evaluation of the relationship development intervention program. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders. Gutstein, S. E., Burgess, A. F., & Montfort, K. (in submission). Evaluation of the relationship development intervention program. Gutstein, S. E., & Sheely, R. (2002). Relationship development intervention with children, adolescents and adults: Social and emotional development activities for Asperger syndrome, autism, PDD, and NLD. London, England: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Ltd. Gutstein, S. E., & Whitney, T. (2002). Asperger syndrome and the development of social competence. Focus on Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities, 3, 161. Klin, A., & Volkmar, F. R. (1997). Asperger’s syndrome. In D. J. Cohen & F. R. Volkmar (Eds.), Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71B, § 3. An Act To Address The Special Education Needs Of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2006 Mass. Acts 57. July 2006. McAfee, J. (2002). Navigating the social world: A curriculum for individuals for Asperger’s syndrome, high functioning autism, and related disorders. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons. Solomon, M., Goodlin-Jones, B. L., & Anders, T. F. (2004). A social adjustment enhancement intervention for high functioning autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorders NOS. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 649–668. Spolin, V. (1999). Improvisation for the theater: A handbook for teaching and directing techniques. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Tsatsanis, K. D., Foley, C., & Donehower, C. (2004). Contemporary outcome research and programming guidelines for Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. Topics in Language Disorders, 24, 249–259. Winner, M.G. (2000). Inside out: What makes a person with social cognitive deficits tick? San Jose, CA: Michelle Garcia Winner, SLP. Yeargin-Allsopp, M., Rice, C., Karapurkar, T., Doernberg, N., Boyle, C., & Murphy, C. (2003). Prevalence of autism in a US metropolitan area. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289, 49–55.

Age and Sex-based Differences in Social Interactions and Spacing in Mantled Howling Monkeys: Implications for Juvenile Social Development
Michelle A. Rodrigues
Ohio State University Department of Anthropology rodrigues.11@osu.edu

Abstract: The extended juvenile period is one of the key characteristics of the Primate order. However, the patterns of social interactions that characterize this time period are understudied, and vary between species with different dispersal patterns. Amongst primate species characterized by bisexual dispersal, it remains unclear what patterns underlie social structure and interaction, and how social bonds are formed and maintained. This study examines age- and sex-based patterns of interactions and spacing in mantled howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata), with an emphasis on the juvenile experience. Since howler monkeys are characterized by extremely low levels of overt social interaction, juveniles have limited opportunities for learning social skills, and how they acquire such skills remains unclear. This study addresses activity budget differences, nearest neighbor preferences, social spacing, and patterns of agonistic and affiliative behavior in a single howler group on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua. Juveniles exhibited less time engaged in rest, and more time engaged in other activities; time spent engaged in social behavior was low for all age and sex classes. Huddling was one of the predominant behaviors of juveniles and adult females, and all social interactions involved a juvenile. Agonistic interactions were rare, but all involved a female initiating agonistic behavior toward a juvenile. These findings indicate that juveniles are the most active participants in social interaction, support patterns of maternal-juvenile weaning conflict, and suggest that juveniles take an active role in seeking social opportunities. The implications of these findings are then considered in a broader evolutionary framework.

Primates are characterized by relatively long life histories and extended periods of development (Pereira & Fairbanks, 2002; Pereira & Leigh, 2003). In particular, one unique aspect in primate life histories is the extension of the juvenile period, which is




considered an adaptation to deal with the acquisition of complex social skills that characterize the order (Joffe, 1997; Pagel & Harvey, 2002; Pereira & Fairbanks, 2002; Pereira & Leigh, 2003). Thus, understanding the interactions and processes that characterize this key developmental period is essential to understanding the evolution of primate sociality. Despite the importance of juvenility amongst primates, this developmental stage has been drastically understudied (Pereira & Fairbanks, 2002; Pereira & Leigh, 2003). However, comparative data on the social interactions that occur during this period for a variety of species may help illuminate some of the general developmental patterns that characterize primates, as well as the diversity of these patterns within the order. Such information is particularly relevant in providing a broad evolutionary context to help understand the developmental processes that characterize our own species. Many of the studies on primate sociality and the juvenile period focus on gregarious, matrilineal species, such as baboons (Papio sp.) and macaques (Macaca sp.), in which females are strongly bonded and males disperse (Strier, 1994a). However, primates have a variety of dispersal patterns, and patterns of social interactions are intrinsically linked to dispersal patterns. In species characterized by male dispersal, patterns of social structure and interactions are guided by underlying kinship ties in females (Gouzoules & Gouzoules, 1987). While this dispersal pattern is characteristic among the well-studied Cercopithecines, such as baboons and macaques, New World monkeys are characterized by a variety of dispersal patterns (Strier, 1994b). Furthermore, while the Cercopithecine patterns of dispersal and social behavior have often been considered the typical primate pattern (Strier, 1994a), other taxa, such as the African apes (Gorilla, Pan), and the New World Atelines (Alouatta, Ateles, Brachyteles, Lagothrix, Oreonax) are characterized by a tendency towards bisexual or female dispersal (Di Fiore & Campbell, 2007). Howler monkeys (Alouatta sp.) present a contrast to many other well-studied primates in that they exhibit very low rates of overt social interaction (Crockett & Eisenberg, 1987). This pattern is related to both diet and dispersal patterns. Mantled howling monkeys exhibit a pattern of bisexual dispersal (Glander, 1992), in which both males and females leave their natal groups. As a result, all the animals in a social group are likely to be unrelated. In the absence of kin relationships, it remains unclear how unrelated individuals establish and maintain social bonds, and how these bonds function in affiliation and aggression. Furthermore, the low rates of social interaction are also related to diet. Howler monkeys are characterized as energy-conservers, and spend large percentages of time engaged in rest to compensate for their low-quality, folivorous diet (Milton, 1980). Such energetic constraints may limit the time and energy that they have available for social behavior. While immigration within a new group is characterized by aggression (Glander, 1992), aggressive encounters are nonetheless low outside this context. Howler social relationships, particularly affiliative relationships, are often indicated through subtle measures such as social spacing rather than overt interactions (Crockett & Eisenberg, 1987). This characteristic is shared by the other Ateline primates as well (Strier, 1994b). Thus, immature individuals may have limited opportunities to observe social interactions in adults. Juvenile howling monkeys may be able to learn from direct so-

Age and Sex-based Differences in Social Interactions and Spacing . . .


cial experience, but these opportunities may be less frequent than in species that are highly interactive. It is unclear how juveniles develop the social skills needed to immigrate to and integrate within a new social group. In mantled howlers, infancy ends with weaning at 10–12 months (Froehlich, Thorington, & Otis, 1981), and both sexes emigrate when they are forced out by residents at approximately 22 months for males and 33 months for females (Glander, 1992). Glander (1992) found that 79% of males and 96% of females at Hacienda la Pacifica, Costa Rica emigrated from their natal group. Females spent 6–12 months being solitary, while males spend more than 26 months on their own. Most howler species live in small groups with a single dominant adult male and several reproductive females and their young (Treves, 2001), but A. palliata groups average more adult females per male, and overall have larger, multi-male groups (Clarke, Crockett, Zucker, & Zaldivar, 2002). Mantled howlers deviate from other species in that groups of up to 40 animals have been reported, and groups may contain from 4–12 fully adult males and over 10 adult females (Crockett & Eisenberg, 1987). Although there is considerable intra-sexual aggression when entering a new social group, the ability of mantled howlers to tolerate and interact peacefully with individuals of the same sex has not been adequately studied. The objective of this study was to investigate patterns of social spacing and interactions in mantled howlers by addressing the following questions: 1) Do activity budgets vary by age and sex? 2) How often do mantled howlers engage in social activity? 3) Are there age- and sex-based patterns of social spacing? 4) Do individuals exhibit a proximity preference for certain age or sex categories? 5) What is the frequency and context of aggressive and affiliative behaviors? 6) Is affiliative or agonistic behavior in mantled howler monkeys more common among individuals of the same sex?

Methods Subjects
This study was conducted at the Beach Forest, a one-hectare fragment of tropical, semi-deciduous forest on the Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua, at 11°40'N and 85°50'W (for further information on the study site, see Garber, Pruetz, Lavallee, & Lavallee, 1999). Data were collected on social interactions and social spacing among a group containing nine individuals. Individuals were categorized into three age/sex classes: adult male, adult female, or juvenile. The group included one adult male, five adult females and three juveniles. No infants were present in this group. All nine individuals were observed as focal subjects. Focal subjects could not be individually recognized. Mother-juvenile relationships could not be determined, as juveniles were observed huddling with multiple females. Juveniles were identified as any immature individual that traveled independently of the mother. While exact ages were unknown, visual estimations of size indicate that the three juveniles were young individuals that had recently made the transition to independent locomotion.



Over eight days from July-August 2002, 50 hours of data were collected on focal animals using an instantaneous 2-minute sampling technique (Altmann, 1974). During each sampling interval, the following information was collected: time of day, identity of the focal animal, activity of the focal animal, identity of the nearest neighbor, activity of nearest neighbor, initiator/recipient of social interaction, and type of social interaction. Activities recorded included feed/forage, solitary rest, travel, social behavior, and huddle (Table 1). Huddling is a form of affiliative rest that was considered separate from either solitary rest or social behavior. Social behaviors were identified as vocalize, cling, groom, play, embrace, fight, rejection, tail-pull, and displacement (Table 2). Focal periods lasted for one hour. The first animal encountered in the day was selected as the first focal. If multiple animals were present, the animal furthest to the right was selected. Subsequent focals were selected by choosing the first animal to the right of a different age or sex class. If the focal was out of sight for five consecutive sample periods, a new focal was selected.
Table 1. Behavioral Catalogue
Behavior Definition

Feed/forage Solitary rest Travel Social behavior Huddle

Any localized movement within the tree crown associated with the procurement, handling, and ingestion of food items Any period of inactivity that does not involve contact with conspecifics Movement within the crown of a tree or between the crowns of trees that is unrelated to food acquisition or social interaction Any behavior that involves interaction, contact, or response to other conspecifics, excluding huddling Sitting in contact (may include tail- or limb-wrapping around a conspecific)

Table 2. Social Behaviors
Behavior Definition

Vocalize Cling Groom Play Embrace Fight Rejection Tail-pull Displacement

Any auditory behavior, such as howls, moans, or cries Holding onto another individual during movement Parting of a conspecific’s hair and picking out insects or foreign objects with hands or mouth Any form of chasing, wrestling, or grappling that does not provoke agonistic response Clasping arms around a conspecific Biting, wrestling, or slapping that provokes agonistic or fearful responses Pushing away an approaching conspecific Pulling a conspecific’s tail Assuming a conspecific’s spatial position, forcing the conspecific to move

Age and Sex-based Differences in Social Interactions and Spacing . . . Table 3. Activity Budgets
Activity Female (%) Male (%) Juvenile (%)


Total (%)

Rest Travel Feed/Forage Social Huddle Sample Size

65.7 5.6 10.5 .9 17.3 641

92.7 2.6 4.5 .3 0 313

49.3 9.6 16.5 1.3 23.2 510

66.5 6.4 11.2 1.0 15.0 1,464

Fifty hours of focal data yielded 1464 sample points. Forty-three percent of observation time was spent observing females. Twenty-one percent of observation time was spent observing males, and thirty-five percent of the time was spent observing juveniles. Thirty-six sample points were coded as “out of sight” and discarded from further analysis.

Activity Budget
Rest was the predominant activity recorded. However, juveniles engaged in less rest, and spent more time engaged in every other activity. Juveniles spent significantly less time resting than adult males and females (χ2 = 14.78, df = 2, p < .001) and engaged in travel and feeding/foraging more often. Social interactions were rare and accounted for less than 1% of the total activity budget. However, huddling was common for both adult females (17.3%) and juveniles (23.2%), and was the second most predominant activity for these age/sex classes. The adult male engaged predominantly in rest, engaged in social interactions rarely, and was not observed to engage in huddling. Huddling was one of the most common behaviors observed, but only adult females and juvenile females participated in this behavior. Furthermore, huddling always included a female-juvenile dyad. While huddling was primarily a juvenile-adult female interaction, on occasion a second adult female or juvenile-adult female dyad was observed huddling with another juvenile-adult female pair. Juveniles were observed to huddle with one female and then switch to huddle with another female on occasion, indicating that they do not huddle solely with their mothers.

Nearest Neighbor Patterns
Females exhibited spatial patterns that were significantly different from what would be expected by chance (χ2 = 160.27, df = 2, p < .0005). Most of their time was spent with juveniles as their closest neighbor, and they spent less time next to females than would be expected by chance (Table 4a). This pattern indicates a preference for juveniles. Time spent closest to the male was approximately what would be expected

Table 4. Nearest Neighbor
(a) Female (N = 5)


Observed Value

Observed Total %

Expected %

Expected Value

Female Male Juvenile Total Sample
(b) Male (N = 1)

127 81 331 539

23.5 15.0 61.4 100

50 12.5 37.5 100

269.5 67.375 202.125 539

Female Male Juvenile Total Sample
(c) Juvenile (N = 3)

210 0 35 245

85.7 0 14.3 100

62.5 0 37.5 100

153.125 0 91.875 245

Female Male Juvenile Total Sample

453 14 22 489

92.6 2.3 4.5 100

62.5 12.5 25 100

305.625 61.125 122.5 489

by chance, indicating that females neither prefer nor avoid the male. The male exhibited significantly different spatial patterns than would be expected by chance (χ2 = 56.33, df = 1, p < .0005), with most of his time spent closest to adult females (85.7%), indicating a strong preference for females over juveniles (Table 4b). The juveniles exhibited significantly different spatial patterns than would be expected by chance (χ2 = 189.85, df = 2, p < .0005). Most of their time was spent closest to adult females, with very little time closest to the male or other juveniles, indicating a strong preference for females (Table 4c).

Social Spacing Patterns
Age- and sex-based differences in social spacing were found. During synchronized rest, defined as a period in which both the focal and nearest neighbor were inactive,

Table 5. Social Spacing During Rest
Dyad 0 m (%) ≤ 1m (%) 2–3 m (%) 4–5 m (%) 6–10 m (%) 10+ m (%) Sample


1.3 0 65 0 0

52.6 20.2 29.1 20.0 100

6.6 30.5 4.3 40.0 0

6.6 18.4 .5 13.3 0

13.2 22.3 1.0 0 0

0 8.5 0 26.6 0

76 282 580 15 2

Age and Sex-based Differences in Social Interactions and Spacing . . . Table 6. Patterns of Social Behavior
Interaction Value % of Social Behaviors


% of Total Activity

Vocalize* Cling Groom Play Embrace Fight Rejection Tail-pulling Displacement Total Affiliative Total Agonistic

3 3 1 4 1 3 1 1 2 9 7

N/A 18.75 6.25 25 6.25 18.75 6.25 6.25 12.5 56.3 43.8

.2 .2 .06 .3 .06 .2 .06 .06 .1 .5 .5

*Vocalizing appeared to be a reaction to strong wind rather than to other conspecifics; thus, it was not included in further analysis of social behaviors.

adult females spent over half of their time resting at a distance of one meter or less from one another. This female-female spatial pattern is indicative of an affiliative relationship. By contrast, adult females spent a greater percentage of time resting at greater distances from the adult male. Adult females and juveniles maintained the closest proximity, indicating close affiliation between the two age/sex classes. However, regarding the adult male, while juveniles did spend 60% of their time resting with the male less than 3m away, no time was spent in contact, and more time was spent resting over 10m apart than was spent at 1m or less from him. Thus, greater distances are maintained resting with the male in comparison to resting with females, indicating that juveniles may have stronger affiliative ties with the females.

Patterns of Agonistic and Affiliative Interaction
Social behaviors were rare, accounting for only 1% of the total activity budget. Vocalizing was coded as a social behavior, but excluded from further analyses of social behaviors, as it appeared to be a reaction to strong wind rather than to other individuals. Only the adult male vocalized. All social interactions involved juveniles interacting with another individual; 50% of these interactions involved two juveniles, 6.3% of these interactions involved a juvenile and an adult male, and 43.8% of these interactions involved a juvenile and an adult female. While affiliative interactions were rare, and accounted for 0.5% of all activity, at 56.3% of total social interaction, they were slightly more predominant than agonistic interactions (43.8% of total social interaction). All of these interactions involved a juvenile interacting with another individual. All but one occurrence of affiliative social interaction was initiated by a juvenile, with the one exception being an embrace that was initiated by the adult male towards a juvenile. Agonistic behaviors accounted for only 0.5% of all activity (43.8% of total



social interaction), and included fighting, rejection, tail-pulling, and displacement. All agonistic interactions were initiated by an adult female towards a juvenile.

In a species with a low frequency of social interaction, spatial distances and the interactions that do occur are suggestive of patterns of social preference and relationship maintenance. The results of this study indicate that adult females rarely spend time in proximity to other females, but when they do, close distances are maintained. While this may seem contradictory, it can be explained by Jones’ (1980) finding that females are selective in relationships with other females. Adult females may actively seek out certain preferred females, while avoiding other females. Zucker and Clarke (1998) found that high-ranking female mantled howlers spend more time in proximity to other females than low-ranking females. Thus, adult female neighbor and distance patterns may be structured by rank hierarchy and personal preferences. The pattern that emerges in this study suggests that adult females may be avoidant of other females in general, but intimate spatial distances are maintained in the proximity of preferred females. The results of this study agree with Zucker and Clarke’s (1998) finding that adult females spend more time in proximity to other females rather than males. The adult male exhibited a strong preference to be in the proximity of females rather than juveniles; this may be due to the potential for sexual partnership, or because of established affiliative relationships with the females. While the adult male spent far less time in proximity to juveniles, the only male interaction with any group member was an embrace with a juvenile, and it was initiated by the male. Mantled howler males take little interest in the young of the group, unlike the males of A. pigra who take a strong interest in infants (Bolin, 1981) and Callitrichidae males, who share parental duties (Whitten, 1987; Snowdon & Ziegler, 2007). However, males do exhibit affiliation towards young who are likely to be biologically related. Clarke, Glander, and Zucker (1998) found that mantled howler males carry infants, although this occurs only with the infants they may have sired. Affiliation with potential offspring may extend past infancy; thus affiliation with juveniles may be an extension of the bonds established during infancy. As this particular group contained only one male, it is likely that he is the father of all the group’s juveniles. It should be noted that although the male initiated contact, it was the juvenile that approached him. Perhaps males do not actively seek out interactions with juveniles, but demonstrate affiliative or reassuring contact when approached. Nonetheless, no conclusion can be drawn from a single instance and further study is necessary to ascertain whether this hypothesis holds. While the male maintained spatial distances of 3m or less at least half of the time with females and juveniles, he maintained greater distances than were maintained between females and juveniles, and the male interacted the least with other group members. This pattern suggests an acentric system, in which the male is a peripheral component of the social activity. While this uni-male group differed from the multi-male groups that are more common in A. palliata, the patterns of spacing are likely to be similar, as research has indicated that howlers tend to inter-

Age and Sex-based Differences in Social Interactions and Spacing . . .


act infrequently with either adult males or adult females, and prefer females as neighbors (Wang & Milton, 2003). Females and juveniles maintained very close spatial distances, and preferred each other as nearest neighbors. This makes intuitive sense, as juveniles continue to seek maternal comfort after weaning, and mothers still maintain strong affiliative bonds with their offspring. Unrelated females and juveniles also have motivations to seek affiliative spatial distances. Juveniles exercise independence from their mothers by seeking the company of other individuals. This promotes the development and maintenance of social bonds that function to uphold cooperation and coexistence until emigration from the natal group. Juveniles may seek others for comfort when their mothers reject weaning attempts and other solicitations for maternal care. Clarke, Glander, and Zucker (1998) found that non-mother females demonstrate extreme interest in young infants. While this interest declines as the infants grow older, perhaps affiliative bonds established by females early in life are maintained as the infants develop. These bonds may be an important factor driving affiliative relationships between females and juveniles, until juveniles grow old enough to represent a competitive threat. Juveniles were the most active participants in social interaction, and were the recipients in every observed instance of agonistic behavior. The higher amounts of social interactions are part of an overall trend toward great activity in juveniles; they spent less time engaged in rest, and more time engaged in all other activities. In addition, as juveniles are still in the process of establishing independence, they often seek their mothers for comfort. Playing with other juveniles provides an opportunity to develop skills that are essential later in life. Interacting with other group members also serves to strengthen social bonds within the group, which functions to preserve group membership until competitive pressure dissolves these bonds and causes residents to drive the juvenile out. These bonds operate for months to years, as juveniles remain in the natal group for 15 to 47 months (Glander, 1992). Establishing and maintaining social bonds in the natal group also provides juveniles an opportunity to learn and practice social skills that are essential later in life, when an individual is faced with having to establish and maintain social relationships with a new group of unfamiliar, unrelated individuals. The incidents of agonistic interactions that were all initiated by females against juveniles appear contradictory to the patterns of affiliation suggested by nearest neighbor patterns, spacing, and affiliative interactions. However, these interactions may be a result of mothers being aggressive to their offspring, which can be understood in the context of mother-offspring weaning conflict (Maestripieri, 2002; Trivers, 1974). As infants grow older, patterns of offspring independence-seeking and maternal restriction give way to patterns of maternal rejection and offspring comfort-seeking. Constant nursing causes lactational amenorrhea, in which ovulation is suppressed (Gordon, Hodgen, & Richardson, 1992). Thus, cessation of lactation is a necessary precursor to becoming reproductively available again. When an offspring has received as much time and energy as is necessary to maximize fitness, any unnecessary effort expended on current offspring, especially if it delays conception of more offspring, detracts from the maximization of total reproductive fitness (Maestripieri, 2002; Trivers, 1974). These factors drive the weaning process, which forces juveniles to transition to a stage



of independence they may not desire. Thus, juveniles seek to continue maternal-infant interactions while the mother tries to push the juvenile away (Maestripieri, 2002). Persistence on the part of juveniles leads mothers to assert these relationship changes through agonistic and occasionally overtly aggressive acts toward their offspring. Furthermore, cessation of lactation lowers the levels of prolactin, a hormone associated with parental care and behavior (Ziegler, 2000), which may affect maternal interactions. The agonistic interactions initiated by adult females toward juveniles may be instances in which mothers reject juveniles who are still attempting to nurse, cling, huddle, or otherwise seek maternal care the mothers no longer provide. While juveniles are often considered to be weaned individuals, weaning is not a discrete event but a gradual process (Altmann, 1980; Lee, 1996). Thus, juveniles may still occasionally attempt to nurse even after they are locomoting and feeding independently. Although evidence suggests that female juveniles may be aggressively forced out by resident females in howlers (Calegro-Marques & Bicca-Marques, 1996), the juveniles at this study site were too young to be faced with emigration pressure, and the agonistic and aggressive behavior too rare to be the aggressive stimulus associated with emigration.

These findings indicate that female and juvenile howler monkeys demonstrate a strong preference for each other, suggest an acentric pattern of male sociality, and support a pattern of maternal-juvenile weaning conflict. Juvenile howler monkeys demonstrate the strongest spatial relationships with females and other juveniles, indicating that these two age/sex classes may be the most essential to their social development. Furthermore, these results suggest that in a social structure characterized by low levels of social interaction, juvenile howler monkeys must play an active role in seeking social opportunities. The independent and active role that juvenile howlers play in creating their own social experiences may be more essential to them than to juveniles in species where adults are more interactive. Nonetheless, there is evidence that in a variety of primate species, juveniles are active participants in seeking out social opportunities (Cercopithecus aethiops: Fairbanks, 1993; Pan troglodytes: Pusey, 1983; Pusey, 1990; Ateles geoffroyi: Rodrigues, 2007). The playful curiosity that characterizes juveniles is a key trait that is likely to confer benefits in terms of achieving greater social competence, which in turn may confer advantages in future reproductive success. In order to fully investigate this hypothesis, however, longitudinal research throughout the individuals’ lifetime is necessary. While such research is often difficult to obtain given primates’ longevity, studies on juvenile traits and interactions in relation to adult social competence and reproductive success are essential to understanding the evolutionary benefits of the juvenile period. Furthermore, studies comparing the mothers’ proximity and interaction patterns to their juveniles’ patterns may further illuminate the extent to which juveniles create their own social networks independent of maternal guidance. Such studies should be conducted across various primate taxa, as there is likely a great deal of variability within the primate order.

Age and Sex-based Differences in Social Interactions and Spacing . . .


The role of the independent juveniles in actively seeking out their own learning experiences should not be overlooked when considering human social development. One of the ways in which the juvenile period differs in humans is the heavy reliance on teaching. Even among primates that frequently use tools, such as chimpanzees, active teaching is rare (Boesch, 1991; Tomasello, 1999). Thus, it is likely that intense instruction to facilitate learning evolved in conjunction with our species’ unique technical and communicative skills. Nonetheless, while this strategy has an important place in both informal parenting situations and structured educational institutions, we should remember that the acquisition of social knowledge and skills also relies on strategies with a broader evolutionary basis.

I am grateful to Paul Garber, Michelle Bezanson, Petra Jelinek, and Anneke DeLuycker for advice and supervision in the field, and to Jill Pruetz, Stacy Lindshield, Margie Robinson, Michaela Howells, and Aga Sukiennik for their helpful comments. I would also like to thank Barbara King and an anonymous reviewer for their critical comments that strengthened this manuscript. This research was conducted with the support of the Ometepe Biological Field Station.

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Book Review

Maria Botero

Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees
Edited by Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Masaki Tomonaga, and Masayuki Tanaka, Springer, 2006 Imagine entering a laboratory and finding that researchers are trapped inside and chimpanzees are free to roam around in an outside compound with 500 trees, climbing towers, and a small stream where fish, amphibians, insects, and birds live. This is the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University (KUPRI) in Japan where a chimpanzee community lives and where the Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees (CDC) project was developed by the three editors of Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees— Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Masaki Tomonaga, Masayuki Tanaka—and two post-doctoral students. Their intention is to explore different aspects of chimpanzee development, including the transmission of skills and knowledge from one individual to another and from one generation to the next. These laboratory studies are complemented by the findings of the Bossou-Nimba project in Guinea, West Africa, which is run by members of the KUPRI international team. Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees is a collection of articles that resulted from the field and laboratory findings of this group of scientists. What is significant about these studies is the method that underlines them. Tetsuro Matsuzawa, in a personal communication to me, said that his research attempts to be a middle point between that of his mentors, the laboratory work of David Premack and the field work of Jane Goodall. What he has achieved is to bring the field to the laboratory and the laboratory to the field. The outdoor compound for the KUPRI community makes for a dynamic unlike traditional experimental settings. The subjects, whose minds are to be studied, are surrounded by the researchers in an open space where trees grow naturally and where social interaction takes place. Upon invitation, the subjects might come and perform the tasks requested by the researchers. This same kind of research can be observed at the Bossou site. There, researchers set up what they called “field experiments,” a procedure that was popularized in ethology in the 1960s by Niko Tinbergen (1963). In order to study tool use, stones and nuts were laid at Bossou on the ground and artificial drinking places were created. This shift in the methodology used both in the field and the laboratory suggests an underlying commitment to study chimpanzee behavior within social interactions. In




other words, the authors shift from the individual as a basic unit of analysis toward a basic unit that is composed of individuals interacting in social contexts. One of the most interesting characteristics of the methodology used in the KUPRI laboratory setting is the use of social interactions where researchers, mothers, and infants are involved. In the experiments done with the KUPRI community, researchers are required to be involved in the daily life of the chimpanzees, interacting in the chimpanzees’ own space. Jane Goodall points out in the foreword of Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees that this allows them to show how empathy between scientist and subject plays a crucial role in obtaining results. This new paradigm is based on a triadic relationship between the mother, the infant, and the researcher, and is called “participation observation.” It entails having the mother be present in the infant’s everyday life, and having the experimenter request the mother’s help in any experiment that involves the infant. Through the use of this paradigm, the authors of the articles compiled in this book recognize that the presence of the mother is fundamental to obtaining valid results in their experiments. In other words, through this shift in paradigm, the authors recognize that the quality of interaction with the caregiver is fundamental to the cognitive and emotional development of the infant. At first, this may seem a trivial recognition of something that was already established in the 1960s by Harry Harlow and Stephen Suomi. Harlow and Suomi’s experiments described the effects of maternal separation on rhesus infants. However, even today, many experimenters continue to ignore the role of the mother in the infant’s development. This is suggested by the fact that in many settings designed to describe the cognitive development of chimpanzees, the subjects are hand-raised by humans or the infants are separated from the mothers during experimental procedures. In chapter 1, Tetsuro Matsuzawa describes how a separation paradigm was adopted at the beginnings of the research in ape language which used as subjects chimpanzees such as Washoe, Gua, and Joni, who were human-reared. In the lecture Matsuzawa gave at the Chimpanzee Mind Conference in 2007 in Chicago, he recalled how at the beginning of his career he faced a similar situation, when a chimpanzee mother rejected her infant and he decided to raise it with his own children. Although Matsuzawa’s research started in a separation context, he did not continue with this context. Moreover he claimed that it is not “fair” for a chimpanzee to be raised by humans because the infant chimpanzee has “no real parents” and has to adapt to the human environment. This conclusion is coherent with the methodological procedures adopted in many of his experiments where the infant spends his everyday life with his mother and has the opportunity to observe her and practice the same tasks she is performing. This particular methodology has led to a number of interesting results that are described in Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees in sets of articles organized under different topics. In Part 2 we find a series of articles that describe the physical development of chimpanzees. In chapters 2 and 3, Hideko Takeshita, Masako MyowaYamakoshi, Satoshi Hirata, and Nobuyuki Kawai describe how the trust of two chimpanzee mothers, Tsubaki and Pan, allowed researchers to perform four-dimensional ultrasonography on their lower abdomens to investigate the chimpanzee fetus’ motor skills and learning. These observations are compared to similar ones in the human

Book Review


fetus. In, chapter 5 Takeshi Nishimura describes the descent of the larynx in chimpanzees, which contradicts some traditional beliefs. In Part 3 there is a strong orientation toward describing mother-infant communication in evolutionary terms and exploring how some aspects of communication are shared by both chimpanzees and humans. Many contexts are considered including facial recognition, food sharing, joint attention, and the development of social cognition. A clear example is found in chapter 12 where Masaki Tomonaga, because of his relationship with the mother chimpanzee, is able to test an infant in a face-to-face situation and provide a very detailed description of the first two years of social development. Without this approach, an infant at such an early age is mostly inaccessible to the experimenter. This methodology has led to a description of how chimpanzee infants before 2 months display capabilities similar to human infants (i.e., recognition of their mother’s face, facial responses to the human model, and mutual gaze with the mother). In Part 4, the development of social cognition is explored through the topics of imitation, transmission of tools, food neophobia, and tactical deception. In chapter 13 of this section, Satoshi Hirata offers an account which suggests learning and transmitting of tool use skills; similar results were also found in the wild (Lonsdorf, Eberly, & Pusey, 2004). This may indicate that allowing the mother and the infant to encounter a food-related problem together yields results similar to field settings. Some of the results to emerge from observations are compared to those from human development. Masako Myowa-Yamakoshi, in chapter 14, offers an important contribution to research on comparative chimpanzee-human imitation. Part 5 describes the development of conceptual cognition in categorization, shadow information (i.e., using the shadow of an object as a cue for depth perception), color recognition, and cross-modal presentations, and again the results obtained are compared with the results in human infants. An experiment presented in chapter 23 as part of an exploration of ways in which cognitive enrichment is part of the welfare of captive chimpanzees describes the different ways in which chimpanzees engage with movie clips and with tools for obtaining food. At the end of this chapter, Naruki Morimura claims, “It is not an exaggeration to say that the beginnings of studies of animal welfare start with an understanding of animals themselves” (p. 388). Animal welfare seems a topic that lies within the heart of the CDC project. It is evident in the methodological aspects described above, i.e., in the active participation of the subjects and the design of the outdoor complex. It is also suggested by the reforestation program at the Bossou site, where green corridors are being created to connect the Bossou community with neighboring groups of chimpanzees to ensure their genetic diversification.1 The authors engaged in the CDC project create a reciprocal dynamic between what they learn about cognitive development and their work in animal welfare. That is, they apply what they learn to animal welfare and environmental enrichment and this in turn provides them with a better understanding of chimpanzee cognitive development.

1. For more information visit: http://www.phytoculture.co.jp/greenbelt-top-E.html.



Part 6 is devoted to the use of tools and culture. This last set of papers follows upon the famous Whiten et al. (1999) paper, where observers found across seven field sites 39 different behavior patterns by chimpanzees that are customary or habitual in some communities but are absent in others, where ecological explanations have been discounted. These 39 behaviors were singled out as candidates for cultural behaviors. The papers in Part 6 add to the discussion a developmental perspective that shows how the study of cultural behaviors cannot be reduced to counting them up in different parts of Africa; it is necessary to understand how cultural behaviors are developed within the community. For example, in chapter 27, Tatyana Humle shows how ant dipping, which is culturally variable, is not a single behavior but instead two different kinds of behaviors that respond to micro-ecological conditions in the environment. That is, chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea perform two different kinds of ant dipping behaviors: ant dipping in a nest and ant dipping on migrating ants. In chapter 28, Dora Biro, Cláudia Sousa, and Tetsuro Matsuzawa describe how there are different nut-cracking and leaffolding techniques that differ across sites, individuals, and ages of the subjects. Only one thing is lacking in this brilliant collection of articles: a stronger theoretical background for the experiments. There are two examples. First, Matsuzawa claims that the field studies in Bossou have brought many novel findings, such as hand preferences. In presenting his data, acknowledgment of earlier research in the same area (e.g., Fragaszy and Mitchell, 1990; Parr, Hopkins, & de Waal, 1997; McGrew & Marchant, 1997; Harrison & Byrne, 2000; Corp & Byrne, 2004; Phillips & Sherwood, 2005) would have enhanced the discussion. Second, the idea of active participation as a methodology is an approach that is similar to a form of qualitative research used in anthropology called “participant observation” that was spread by Bronislaw Malinowski in Britain and Franz Boas in the United States. Since the 20th century, modernist ethnographers in the anthropology field through the methodological use of “participant observation” have discussed ways in which the observer relates to the subject of study, and how it is possible to provide rigorous observations of social processes from this relationship. It would enrich the discussion presented by this book’s editors if they had acknowledged the existence of this methodology in anthropology and incorporated some of the contributions this field has made with regard to the relationship between the observer and its subjects and the acquisition of data. However, these failings do not undermine this effort to characterize the chimpanzee mind. In a personal communication, Matsuzawa claimed that he wanted to obtain a whole picture of the chimpanzee mind and not broken pieces. Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees, as a result of the CDC project, chooses to tackle this issue by considering how cognition unfolds through development and social interactions. The reader can complement these articles and get a better idea of how this methodology works with videos found at http://www.pri.kyoto-u.ac.jp/ai/index-E.htm for laboratory work and at http://pri.kyoto-u.ac.jp/chimp/inex.html for field work. In sum, one of the strengths of this book is that the authors embrace the idea of explaining the chimpanzee mind not as belonging to an individual who is static, but as belonging to a social individual who undergoes developmental changes. This collection, then, is not only relevant for researchers in the field of primatology interested in the areas of social interactions, but may also be of interest to readers in the child de-

Book Review


velopment area. The order of primates comprises over three hundred species and a great variability in social systems and environmental adaptations. This variability has led some researchers to be cautious not only of extrapolating general primate behavior to human behavior, but of extrapolating the behavior of any individual species, such as chimpanzees, to humans; however, many of the findings presented through this book suggest the possibility of similar developmental characteristics in both species. These scientists describe how human and chimpanzee infants have similar sequences and timing of various developmental phenomena. Thus, Cognitive Development in Chimpanzees is a contribution that may enhance our understanding of some of the basic traits of development in primates.

Corp, N., & Byrne, R. (2004). Sex difference in chimpanzee handedness. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 123, 62–68. Fragaszy, D. M., & Mitchell, S. R. (1990). Hand preference and performance on unimanual and bimanual tasks in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 104, 275–282. Harrison, K. E., & Byrne, R. W. (2000). Hand preferences in unimanual and bimanual feeding by wild vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 114, 13–21. Lonsdorf, E. V., Eberly, L. E., & Pusey, A. E. (2004). Sex differences in learning in chimpanzees. Nature, 428, 715–716. McGrew, W. C., & Marchant, L. F. (1997). On the other hand: Current issues in and meta-analysis of the behavioral laterality of hand function in nonhuman primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 104, 201–232. Parr. L., Hopkins, W., & de Waal, F. (1997). Haptic discrimination in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella): Evidence of manual specialization. Neuropsychologia, 35, 143–152. Phillips, K. A., & Sherwood, C. (2005). Primary motor cortex asymmetry is correlated with handedness in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Behavioral Neuroscience, 119, 1701–1704. Tinbergen, N. (1963). On aims and methods of ethology. Zeitshrift Fur Tierpsychologie, 120, 410–33. Whiten, A., Goodall, J., McGrew, W. C., Nishida, T., Reynolds, V., Sugiyama, Y., Tutin, C. E. G., Wrangham, R. W. & Boesch, C. (1999). Cultures in chimpanzees. Nature, 399, 682–685.

Book Review

Ira Glovinsky

Young Minds in Social Worlds
by Katherine Nelson, Harvard University Press, 2007 Katherine Nelson’s Young Minds in Social Worlds is an immensely rich, fascinating, and exciting book that describes development from infancy as the evolution of a “private mind” that is different from every other private mind and that gradually unfolds as the child enters the meaning-sharing of a “community of minds” through the first five years of life. In each chapter, she describes this unfolding progressively and the changes that take place as the child moves up the developmental ladder. A central theme of this book, according to Nelson (p. 209), is “the idea that infants and young children have ‘private minds’ that gradually open up to the awareness of others’ meanings as they become open to social and cultural messages through verbal and other symbolic means.” The child must learn that his or her developing representations of the world are not universal. We all represent the world differently, and it is through our interactions with others, i.e., shared meanings, that we begin to understand how others think and represent the world and thus enter into a “community of minds.” This community is social and cultural, and neither aspect can be separated from our experiences. Verbal and non-verbal communications are the vehicles through which we understand our own and others’ worlds. As we develop language, inner experiences can be shared with others, and we slowly change our perspectives and co-construct our representations of the world. Language helps us understand others and enables us to gradually build on our unique experiences and develop new models of the world. Nelson describes the principles by which these changes take place. The process is dynamic and involves organization and coherence. A developmental systems framework differs from earlier concepts of child development that are described in the first chapters of her book. Nelson discusses Piagetian and Vygotskian concepts of development along with other theories, including dynamic systems theory. She considers the strengths and weaknesses of different research studies and then contrasts her own ideas with these other theories. According to Nelson, there are coherent connections among the parts of developmental systems and there is continuity of development over time. The organization of the self is a continuous and dynamic process. As the infant/child encounters the larger social and cultural world, adjustments must be made. These adjustments occur inter-


Book Review


nally and externally. Unlike Piaget, who uses equilibrium and disequilibrium as central concepts, Nelson states that developmental systems are continuously moving towards organization. Through the child’s mindsharing, his or her mind becomes more complex. As the child becomes more aware and conscious of differences between minds, and as internal organization is expanded through interactions, the child is able to develop new perspectives and new meanings that are attached to older memories. Memories enable us to experience continuity and a sense of past, present, and future that are richly interwoven. Although it is not emphasized, individuality of personal characteristics, experiences, and social and cultural conditions is a central principle in Nelson’s view of development. Individual differences enable each of us to develop uniquely. Nelson states that there is “nonuniformity in developmental sequences and organization” (p. 241). This book evokes feelings of exuberance and vitality in the reader. While development is coherent and continuous, we are continually open to change through mindsharing and changing our perspectives as we are able to see the world through others’ lenses. Each of us starts with our own private meanings that we develop through our experiences, but as we share our meanings with others and they share their meanings with us, we grow and expand our consciousnesses. Each of the chapters in this book presents current information regarding developmental processes. In the first two chapters, Nelson provides an historical and philosophical presentation of her view of child development. She describes the work of theorists, including Piaget and Vygotsky, as “old metaphors” (p. 2) of child development, and she describes the impact they have had on our thinking about children. Both Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s ideas are richly woven into Nelson’s theory of development, which emphasizes its evolution from subjective social experiences. The child is an active participant in development, co-constructing an understanding of the world through social interactions. Nelson rejects the classical view that objective knowledge exists in the world and the child learns that knowledge and also rejects the prevalent model of the child as a “scientist” or “theorist.” She is critical of research on children’s word learning that maps object words to meaning because mapping theories assume that children’s presymbolic concepts or categories are the same as those of adults. Nelson’s observations of development are woven into the six chapters that follow, which move the infant and toddler into the world of childhood. She then discusses the experiential semantics of first words and children’s entrances into the world of symbols, when they find themselves in time and enter the community of minds and meaning-sharing. In the final chapter, Nelson focuses on how we study child development and offers her ideas on a general theory of early development. Along the way, she describes important accomplishments, including social knowledge, object knowledge, locomotion that develops in infancy and memory, imitation, language, play, and the early development of self in infancy and toddlerhood. As the child moves into early childhood, Nelson continues her discussion on language development, representation, narratives, autobiographical memory, and collaborative learning. In the final chapter, Nelson discusses research programs that study children in natural environments as compared to laboratory settings. Observing children in the “reality of their everyday world” is crucial. Studies in laboratories follow up on observations



and findings in natural settings “using experimental technologies and controls to achieve higher power” (p. 257). Nelson waves the following red flags at those who study developmental processes: • In studying children, we are studying beings that are very different from our adult selves. • Studying the child in the laboratory without making naturalistic observations removes the child from her natural environment, and thus conclusions that are drawn cannot be valid. The combination of naturalistic and laboratory studies is most fruitful. • Researchers who are studying children in the present cannot ignore the child’s social history and the child’s relationship to the environment. The child’s individual differences are interwoven with environmental input. • Developmental change is highly variable and individual; looking at an “average child” obscures individual differences between children. This book is invaluable to undergraduate and graduate students as well as researchers in the field of child development. However, Nelson’s writing is fluid and highly understandable. Anyone interested in the unfolding of the developmental processes will appreciate her writing and the rich information that she provides. This work would be enriched by combining it with recent research on emotional development as it fuels the developmental process, research that complements Nelson’s ideas on development (Cole, 2004; Calkins, 2007). The symbiosis between cognition and feelings provides a holistic model of development.

Calkins, S. D., & Hill, A. (2007). Caregiver influences on emerging emotion regulation: Biological and environmental transactions in early development. In James J. Gross (Ed.) Handbook of Emotion Regulation. New York: Guilford Press. Cole, P. M., Martin, S. E., & Dennis, T. A. (2004). Emotion regulation as a scientific construct: Methodological challenges and directions for child development research. Child Development, 75, 317–333.

Book Review

Serife Tekin

No Child Left Different
Edited by Sharna Olfman; foreword by Mel Levine, Praeger Publishers, 2006 Wittgenstein once said, “You must always be puzzled by mental illness. The thing I would dread most, if I became mentally ill, would be your adopting a common sense attitude; that you could take it for granted that I was deluded.” Wittgenstein is pointing out how the collective act of classifying and naming psychological states as illness carries with it the danger of interpreting all aspects of an individual’s behavior as symptomatic of mental disturbance. In other words, once we decide that someone is mentally ill, we start to take certain things for granted, generalizing about his mental situation rather than seeing him as a unique individual. The tremendous increase in the number of children in the United States diagnosed as having psychiatric illnesses in the past 15 years and the monopoly of the psychotropic drug treatment over other forms of treatments such as psychotherapy may be evidence of such an attitude. Let us consider these statistical facts in the light of Wittgenstein’s words and ask two basic (and disturbing) questions: (1) why so many children are diagnosed with psychiatric disturbances; and (2) why drugs have become the treatment of first choice. No Child Left Different (2006), edited by Sharna Olfman, successfully brings a number of different disciplines into a dialogue to address these questions. Through rigorous interdisciplinary descriptive analysis, her work yields insight into the phenomenon of mental illness in children. It also provides normative suggestions aimed at overcoming this crisis in child psychiatry. The overarching goal of No Child Left Different is to draw attention to the danger of biological or medical models of mental illness which locate the source of psychological disturbance in faulty genes and brain chemistry, and disregard the role of environmental and social factors in mental health. Although other models of mental illness were widely adopted in the past, managed health care companies in the US now only recognize the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which categorizes psychological disturbances and diagnostic criteria in accordance with the medical model. The book’s contributing authors adopt approaches from a number of disciplines, including Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Psychology, Sociology, and Neuroscience, thereby effectively challenging the present tendency towards reductionism. They consider how the interplay of genes and environment shapes brain




development; they examine the effect of the environment, industry, social resources, and government policies on children’s mental health; and they seek to explain the reasons for the increasing number of children diagnosed with mental illness, noting, for example, the power of pharmaceutical industries to influence how we think about psychologically disturbed children. No Child Left Different has three parts. The first, Environments Matter, focuses on the environmental factors that influence children’s mental health, and demonstrates how nature and nurture work together in shaping mental health by appealing to the research done in sociology, biology, psychology, and neuroscience. In the introductory article, Olfman pronounces the ultimate task of this book as one of embracing children’s individual differences and of cultivating diversity of characteristics without labeling them. The second article, also by Olfman, “The Building Blocks of Children’s Mental Health: Care and Community,” criticizes a skewed emphasis on the heritability of mental illness. Identifying the lack of care and community support in child development as a reason for the increased number of psychiatric diagnoses in America, she encourages academics and politicians to work on improving conditions for healthy child development. Children require constant care from the primary caregivers, she says, and to this end, public policies, practices, and resources should be created to allow parents to devote time and energy to their children. The next article, Jane M. Healy’s “The Dance of Nature and Nurture: How Environment Impacts Brain Development and Genetic Expression,” suggests that the question of “nature or nurture?” is outdated. Healy recommends that we use instead the notion of “nature via nurture” since it more effectively captures the dynamic, selforganizing structure of human development and emphasizes that the variables in each child’s environment are so instrumental in determining how her genes express themselves. Drawing on evidence from neuroscience, Healy notes the plasticity of the brain. She suggests that the brain is highly responsive to the environment; hence, early competent and nurturing caregivers can modify a seemingly innate “difficult” personality style. “Toxic World, Troubled Minds,” by Varda Burstyn and David Fenton, focuses on the influence of lead, mercury, and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) on children’s neurological development and mental health. The authors suggest that psychotropic drugs make psychologically disturbed children’s systems even worse. They provide solutions to this crisis, however, explaining what families, communities, and governments need to do. The last article in this section, John B. Murray’s “Media Violence, The Drug Choice for Young Males,” deals with the addictive quality of media violence, specifically, TV and video game violence. Providing evidence from research done over the past 50 years, Murray says that televised violence affects viewers’ attitudes, values, and behavior in the form of aggression, desensitization, and fear. The articles in the second part of the book, Medical Remodel, take a different approach. They consider the history of diagnosis, raising philosophical arguments about the way we think about the mind. Michael Brody’s “Child Psychiatry, Drugs and the Corporation,” draws attention to the impact of global pharmaceutical corporations on the increased use of prescription drugs to treat mental disturbance in children. Giving

Book Review


a detailed history of the evolution of classificatory schemes, including Emile Kraepelin’s initial classification scheme, the escalation of psychoanalytic treatment, and the rise of the DSM reliance conjoined with the anti-psychiatry movement, this piece provides the reader with a rooted understanding of where psychiatry and diagnosis stand right now. Brody believes that the ethical and scientific integrity of drug research has been compromised by the extent to which pharmaceutical companies influence the content of articles in scientific journals and symposia at medical conferences. Brody ends with a set of useful suggestions, such as the need for independent government agencies and academic institutions to design and conduct clinical drug trials, rather than for-profit companies. “The Development of Mentally Healthy Children,” by Stuart Shanker, adopts a critical approach to the conception of mental health as the absence of disease, with the suggestion that what may be perceived as illness may, in fact, be a sign of difference and originality. Tracing the source of the medical model of mental illness to its Hippocratic roots, Shanker suggests that to understand the full complexity of mental functioning, we need to look at the strengths and abilities of a developing child at different periods, as well as how these capacities develop. He explains the stages of development, which, according to the theory developed by Shanker and Stanley Greenspan, are primarily activated by the emotional interaction between the infant and the primary caregiver. These interactions are responsible for the development of child’s social, cognitive, and language abilities and if they do not completely flourish, there is a delay in child’s mental development. Shanker’s point is that we need to target a child’s symptoms, attempting to treat the underlying developmental challenges; the use of psychotropic drugs cannot, in and of itself, be a solution. Daniel Burston’s “Diagnosis, Drugs, and Bipolar Disorder in Children” closes out this section. It contends that, since the publication of the DSM-III in 1980, psychiatry has begun to divest itself of psychoanalytic habits of thought and practice. As a result, the word “diagnosis” has come to mean a narrow and “objective” classification of illness, based on the clinician’s ability to identify and enumerate the various signs and symptoms of a disease. For Burston, one such diagnosis, commonly treated with psychotropic drugs, is Bipolar Disorder (BPD). According to Burston, little research has been done into childhood bipolar disorder; in fact, claims of the disorder appearing in very young children are unsupported. Burston suggests finding other narratives to describe and define the disturbed children in question, so that a more constructive healing takes place. The focus should be on assessing and understanding the children’s condition, not on labeling their psychological disturbance. The third and final section of the book, Pathologies of Normalcy, opens with “The Rise of Ritalin: Triumph and Tragedy of the Medical Model in Children’s Mental Health” by Lawrence Diller. After a brief analysis of the history of stimulant drug use in America, Diller focuses on Ritalin prescriptions for children (used to treat Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD]), warning us of the lack of scientific research in the long-term outcomes of Ritalin. “Why Medications Are Not Enough: Looking More Deeply at Depression and Anxiety in Children,” by Mary Burke, targets the medical model of mental illness, using statistical data to indicate the increased use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake



Inhibitors (SSRIs). Burke is concerned about the increased use of SSRIs as a result of the enhancement of the Pharmaceutical and Managed Care Industries and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America. In her view, we must vigorously address the causes of children’s suffering and restore the practice of psychotherapy with parents and children themselves. Finally, in “Global Girls, Consumer Culture and Eating Disorders,” Margo D. Maine provides statistical data to support her argument that disordered eating and body image despair are now normative experiences and that life-threatening eating disorders continue to appear around the world, in girls and women of all ages, ethnicities, races, and socioeconomic strata. In Maine’s view, the underlying causes are global culture and consumerism. Thus, if we wish to take precautionary action against the increasing number of eating disorders, we need to understand the multiple negative impacts of the new globalized consumer economy. Addressing many important issues in children’s mental health, this book is an accessible resource, not only for academics who work in the area of mental illness but also for families who seek an alternative understanding of mental illness. Through its cross-disciplinary approach, No Child Left Different questions the medical approach to mental illness and emphasizes the need to address child development in a broader context. The book does not argue for the removal of DSM categories. Rather, it seeks to shrink the language of illness, cultivating a more inclusive language that critically approaches the notions of normal and abnormal. Classification is clearly differentiated from labeling, however. On the one hand, classification of mental disturbance is required in order to understand and describe the phenomenon, with a view to intervening and remedying. On the other hand, dogmatic labeling, as Olfman says, “disables” the child. In this context, No Child Left Different is an excellent contribution to the literature that leaves us with enough Wittgensteinian puzzles to cogitate on the issue of children’s mental health and enables us to avoid dogma in our conception of mental illness. One problem with No Child Left Different is that the placement of contributors from diverse disciplines next to one another in a single volume raises questions about the coherence of concepts and the stability of language use. And, in fact, the varying concepts of “health,” “illness,” “disability,” and “categorization” occasionally leave the reader in conceptual ambiguity. Nevertheless, while the lack of coherence may present a frustrating obstacle to communication among disciplines, that very lack of communication reminds us that the study of mental illness in children is too big for any one discipline alone. Indeed, despite the lack of coherence and cohesion, such an inclusive approach is warranted.

Rhees, R. (Ed.). (1981). Ludwig Wittgenstein: Personal recollections. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Coming in January 2008
Alan Fogel, University of Utah; Barbara J. King, College of William and Mary, Virginia; and Stuart G. Shanker, York University, Toronto
How do human beings develop and function in relation to the human and natural world? The science of dynamic systems focuses on connections and relationships between people rather than on individual actions alone. This collection of engaging, non-technical essays, written by dynamic systems scientists in psychology, biology, anthropology, education, and sociology, challenges us to consider novel ways to enhance human development worldwide in the face of poverty, violence, neglect, disease and crises in our families. Focusing specifically on how to think about interventions and policies that will benefit human development from a systems perspective, this book brings current research into the realm of application and policy. The authors use real-life examples to propose changes in clinical, educational and policymaking practices that will be of interest to professionals and practitioners alike.

Beatrice Beebe, Lynette Friedrich Cofer, George Downing, Gillian Evans, Alan Fogel, Isabela Granic, Stanley I. Greenspan, Gilbert Gottlieb, Peter Gow, Carolyn Tucker Halpern, Tim Ingold, Joseph Jaffe, Timothy D. Johnston, Masatoshi Kawai, Michael E. Kerr, Barbara J. King, Barry M. Lester, Marc D. Lewis, Robert Lickliter, Gail F. Melson, Daniel S. Messinger, Ken Richardson, Pedro Reygadas, Stuart G. Shanker, Barbara Smuts, Stephen J. Suomi, Christina Toren

Preface: the dynamic systems approach to fostering human development Part I. • • • • • Dynamic Relationships between Genetics and Environments Developmental dynamics: The new view from the life sciences Genes, experience and behavior How dynamic systems have changed our minds Individual development as a system of coactions: Implications for research and policy Gene-environment interactions and interindividual differences in rhesus monkey behavioral and biological development • The social child • Learning about human development from a study of educational failure • Dynamic views of education • Embodied communication in non-human animals • Children in the living world: Why animals matter for children’s development Part IV. Dynamic Systems Approaches to Mental Health • A dynamic developmental model of mental health and mental illness • Dyadic microanalysis of mother-infant communication informs clinical practice • Current problems of Japanese youth: Some possible pathways for alleviating these problems from the perspective of dynamic systems theory • A different way to help • Why do siblings often turn out very differently? • A dynamic systems approach to understanding family and peer relationships: Implications for effective interventions with aggressive youth • Prenatal substance exposure and human development Part V. Conclusions and Outlook • Dynamic systems methods for the life sciences

Part II. The Dynamic System of the Child in the Family • Relationships that support human development • The impact of emotions and the emotional impact of a child’s first words • Emotional habits in brain and behavior: A window on personality development • Creating family love: An evolutionary perspective Part III. The Dynamic System of the Child in Social and Physical Environment • The tempest: Anthropology and human development • An anthropology of human development: What difference does it make?

To order, please visit www.cambridge.org/us/psychology or contact: Cambridge University Press • 100 Brook Hill Drive • West Nyack, NY 10994 Phone: 845-353-7500 or toll-free 800-872-7423, fax: 845-353-4141

Sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders (ICDL), the Council of Human Development, and the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative www.icdl.com www.councilhd.ca www.mehri.ca ISBN number: 0-9767758-6-7

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