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Infant Behav Dev. 2009 Jan;32(1):33-43. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2008.09.007. Epub 2008 Oct 31.

Anticipatory smiling: linking early affective communication and social outcome.

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  • 1University of Pittsburgh, Infant Communication Lab, Department of Psychology, 210 S. Bouquet Street, 3211 Sennott Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


In anticipatory smiles, infants appear to communicate pre-existing positive affect by smiling at an object and then turning the smile toward an adult. We report two studies in which the precursors, development, and consequences of anticipatory smiling were investigated. Study 1 revealed a positive correlation between infant smiling at 6 months and the level of anticipatory smiling at 8 and 10 months during joint attention episodes, as well as a positive correlation between anticipatory smiling and parent-rated social expressivity scores at 30 months. Study 2 confirmed a developmental increase in the number of infants using anticipatory smiles between 9 and 12 months that had been initially documented in the Study 1 sample [Venezia, M., Messinger, D. S., Thorp, D., & Mundy, P. (2004). The development of anticipatory smiling. Infancy, 6(3), 397-406]. Additionally, anticipatory smiling at 9 months positively predicted parent-rated social competence scores at 30 months. Findings are discussed with regard to the importance of anticipatory smiling in early socioemotional development.

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