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Psychol Bull. 1996 Jul;120(1):25-41.

Contingency detection and the contingent organization of behavior in interactions: implications for socioemotional development in infancy.

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School of Psychology, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada.


In this report, the authors review studies addressing the issue of contingencies in social and nonsocial contexts during infancy. The review is divided into 4 groups of studies that suggest that (a) young infants detect contingencies unrelated to their behavior; (b) infants detect contingencies involving their behavior; (c) the study of contingency is pertinent for addressing behavioral organization within parent-infant interaction; and (d) there is a link between behavioral contingency in early infancy and global measures of socioemotional development that are predictive of social functioning at later points during childhood. Throughout the report, the pertinence of infant emotional responses during contingency-related tasks is emphasized. Finally, the authors delineate certain enduring questions regarding contingency experience in infancy and suggest ways of organizing research to address some of them.

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