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J Clin Child Psychol. 2001 Dec;30(4):473-8.

Coregulation of balance between children's prosocial approaches and acts of compliance: a pathway to mother-child cooperation?

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University of Tennessee, Department of Psychology, 227 Austin Peay Building, Knoxville, TN 37996-0900, USA.


Examined the free-field interaction of 32 mother-child dyads who volunteered to participate in a 1-hr home observation. Observers coded mother instructions, child compliance, and child prosocial approaches plus mothers' social attention as potential reinforcers for the children's compliance and social approaches. Herrnstein's matching law was used to analyze covariations between mothers' attention and the children's 2 responses. This analysis was followed by correlational and sequential probability analyses to determine linkages between these 2 child responses and the children's willingness to obey their mothers' instructions. Results showed consistent matching between mothers' social attention and the children's production of prosocial approaches and acts of compliance. An index of the proportions of these 2 responses also covaried with the children's compliance probabilities, and the prosocial approach component was the direct covariate. These findings are discussed within an interactional synchrony framework in which children's willingness to obey their mothers is influenced by opportunities for the dyad to engage each other in specific forms of social interaction.

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