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Unformatted text preview: INFANCY, 3 (3), 395402 Copyright 2002, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. BRIEF REPORTS Jealousy in 6-Month-Old Infants Sybil Hart and Heather Carrington Department of Human Development and Family Studies Texas Tech University Thirty-two 6-month-old infants were exposed to their mothers attending, in turn, to a lifelike baby doll and a book. Infant negativity was greater when maternal atten- tion was directed toward the social object, suggesting the presence of an early form of jealousy by 6 months of age. Inequitably distributed maternal attention, or jealousy inducement, is disturbing to toddlers, as shown in research on toddlers adjustments to the arrival of a sib- ling. These studies documented a broad range of problematic child behaviors, in- cluding aggression, withdrawal, anxiety, regression, dependency, and disturbances in bodily functions such as sleep and elimination difficulties (Dunn & Kendrick, 1982; Gottlieb & Mendelson, 1990; Howe & Ross, 1990; Stewart, Mobley, Van Tuyl, & Salvador, 1987; Taylor & Kogan, 1973). In addition to observing deterio- rated behavior in children, these studies also discovered deteriorated parenting behaviors by mothers, as indicated by mothers showing decreased warmth and playfulness, lesser sensitivity, and increasingly negative confrontations with their toddlers. Such observations led to the view that in addition to direct experiences of dethronement and competition with siblings (Adler, 1931), jealousy is an out- come of children receiving diminished attention during interactions with their mothers (Dunn, 1992). In addition, because most of the children in these natura- listic studies were toddlers, the findings lent weight to suppositions that jealousy is limited to children in this age range and is potentiated by their superior repre- sentational skills (Dunn, 1994). Requests for reprints should be sent to Sybil Hart, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-1162. E-mail: Sybil.Hart@ttu.edu More recently, however, experimental studies suggest that younger infants are also sensitive to jealousy inducement. In one line of research (Hart, Field, Del Valle, & Letourneau, 1998; Hart, Field, Letourneau, & Del Valle, 1998), 12-month- old infants were exposed to situations in which their mothers and a stranger took turns holding and paying attention to a picture book and a lifelike baby doll. Even though the infants were ignored equivalently in all four conditions, they were most distressed by inattention received in the mother-with-doll condition, suggesting that a form of jealousy may be in place by the end of the first year. The presence of jealousy even before 12 months has been suggested in anecdotal accounts and at least one uncontrolled empirical study (Masciuch & Kienapple, 1993), which re- ported that 20% of 6- and 9-month-olds were distressed by exposure to maternal at- tention to another infant. A recent presentation (Draghi-Lorenz, 1998) noted thattention to another infant....
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