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Silvia Panella Peral

Silvia Panella Peral

Social Referencing and Joint Attention Development in Autism and Predominant-Neurotype Populations

Discipline/professional area 

Outline of research project

Social Referencing is a term used to describe the use of another person’s emotional cues in an ambiguous situation in order to gain information about the person’s reaction to the object or event eliciting ambiguity. Historically, social referencing has been linked to joint attention processes and accepted as being a special form of the same milestone.

This research has two parts: In Part 1, I will be studying the definition of social referencing hypothesizing that it is a different developmental process than joint attention. I will be developing a new construct of social referencing and joint attention including its behavioural components. Using a qualitative, cross-sectional methodology, I will be exploring the characteristics of social referencing versus joint attention. In Part 2, I will be comparing social referencing in two groups: children with autism and predominant neurotypical infants and toddlers.

Key references

Feinman, S. (1982). Social Referencing in Infancy. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 28, 445-470.

Mundy, P. and Hogan, A. (1994). Intersubjectivity, Joint Attention and Autistic Developmental Pathology, in D. Cicchetti and S. Toth (eds). Rochester Symposium of Developmental Psychopathology, vol.5, A developmental Perspective on the self  and its disorders (p. 1-30). Hillsdale. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Rosen, W.D., Adamson, L.B., and Bakeman, R. (1992). An experimental investigation of infant social referencing: Mothers’ messages and gender differences. Developmental Psychology, 28, 1172-1178.

Tomasello, M and Farrar, M. (1986). Joint attention and Early Language Child Development, Vol. 57, No. 6  pp. 1454-1463. Blackwell Publishing

Director of studies
Dr Luke Beardon

Dr Tim Jay

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