Caring children: Predicting Infant Prosociality
Although Freud initially attributed to the newborn auto-closure and lack of ability for reciprocal contact, he later came to regard the original bond between the infant and the mother as "the prototype of all later love relationships". From the perspective of attachment theory proposed by Bowlby, psychoanalytic theory, does not, however, specify how the notion of such an affective bond may be translated into an operational description of behaviour.1 Influenced by the ethologists' study of animals and their relational behavior in natural surroundings, Bowlby offers an account in terms of control systems mechanisms that mediate and make up the bonded attachment.2 He suggests that there are species-specific care-taking behaviors elicited by the infant. For example, the crying, looking, or smiling infant will elicit specific patterns of soothing, holding, feeding, or interplaying behavior on the part of the human care-taker.
There is an assumption about asymmetry in these expectations; patterns of care are elicited in the adult caregiver's relating the infant, considered as a recipient of care. Such elicited patterns may come to vary with the particular cultural and community setting in which the human caregiver is embedded, in relation to which the newborn is as yet a stranger (even though it has in the mother's womb been embedded in the rhythmic patterns particular to her culture). But it takes two participants to make a concert of interplay, perhaps even when caring is involved. There may be a reciprocal ground of felt immediacy for mutual caring that suggests that even the infant can be capable of showing care.
If one assumes a dialogic organization of the mind's involving the participation of a virtual other inviting the actual other into the companion space in a mode of felt immediacy, then one
should expect, also in the infant, a capacity for care. Considered in this way, attachment would have to involve mutuality and reciprocity, even in the form of loving care bestowed upon the other, each filling the other's companion space in a mode of felt immediacy. The bond of attachment that may be established between the infant and the actual companion in virtue of the child's companion space will permit the child, not only the adult care person, to engage in a mode of felt immediacy. Hence, the infant should also be expected to exhibit expressions or gestures indicative of caring for the actual other who is sensible to such gestures. Given resources and motoric abilities, available to the infant at the end of the first year, the child may even be expected reach towards and react to the other, when the latter is in need or distress (as it appears to the observer). In virtue of the child's innate complementary participant the child is expected to feel the perspective of the actual other in an immediate, not reasoned or mediate, sense, and to feel the other's lifeform as if it were its own lifeform (in virtue of its virtual other).
Case studies illustrating caring children
Now, consider again the episode mentioned in the introduction of the five month old baby, comforting her elder sibling. Her mother tells the incident, involving two of her children, Katharina (26 weeks) and Kine (4 year and 3 months):
(#1) "I was lying on the bed with Katharina on my stomach and Kine lying besides me. Katharina was playing with a piece of paper, completely absorbed. Kine was repeatedly begging for her dummy and juice bottle and then starts sobbing and crying quite clearly. Katharina turns over, extends her arms towards Kine, and then puts her face against Kine's face." "She was comforting me," Kine explains, as she listens to her mother's narration. "She leaned towards me. I began to laugh."
This case of Kine being comforted by her five month-old sister is but one of numerous examples of the sociability, care and understanding that infants and young children may exhibit.
Prosocial and caring behavior in the first years of life have been documented by case studies and cross-cultural studies by Anna Freud and Burlinghem3, by Rubin and Yarrow, by Beatrice Whiting, Edwards and others. Prosocial instances of the infant's caring for the actual other are reported in studies of children in a wartime nursery context, in laboratory settings, and in parental home contexts. Such studies indicate children's prosocial behaviour and tendencies towards reacting to the other in distress as early as during the first or the second year of age. During the first year or so (until about 20 months) the child appears to react to the other in distress by crying, showing other signs of distress, or by turning to the caretaker, while in the second or third year the child may activate other modes of activity indicative of concern for the other, such as trying to help, share, care and comfort in an active manner.4
Radke-Yarrow and Zahn-Waxler describe children as young as fifteen months to exhibit empathic behaviors and showing signs of caring and concern.5 In their study of how children from ten to thirty months reacted to others in distress, mothers were asked to make a record when some actual other to their child gave signs of distress. In addition, the mothers or investigator sometimes faked mild distress expressions. Even the 10 month old babies showed signs of distress themselves in about half of such episodes, but were rarely seen to seeking to offer comfort to the actual other in distress. During the next twelve months the children are able to approach more directly, touching or patting the other in distress. The eighteen month old toddler, with motoric capacity well developed, is frequently recorded to actively offer comfort also in other ways, bringing objects to the other in distress, or trying to intervene by engaging others to help. For example, the eighteen month old Julie reacts to the crying of smaller baby, tries to stroke his hair, offers cookies, and then, as a final resort, takes her own mother by the hand and bring her to the baby.
Can this ability be accounted for? Darwin postulates an inborn capacity in the infant to feel certain emotions expressed by the actual other (Cf. his observation of his child reacting with an expression of "melancholy" to the nurse pretending to cry, referred to in chapter 2). Already in the hospital nursery, when one of the newborns starts crying, the others will join in, while they do not react to other kinds of equally loud noise.6
In his study of emotions in the child and in animals, Darwin included many cross-cultural reports. Can indications of infant prosociality be found across cultures and communities around the world? Below I shall refer studies of children in twelve communities around the world in which social interaction involving children between 2 and 10 years old have been observed, recorded and compared. As we shall see, the high percentage of positive social behavior found on the part of the 2- and 3-year-old, and the decline of sociability with age, suggest that positive social behavior is not learned (B. Whiting and C. Edwards, 1988: 167; 171).
I shall indicate how the thesis, with some added collateral, entails that children's concern for the other, caring and comforting, emerge on a natural ground. The ground for immediate reciprocity in infancy accounted for in chapter 3, and supported by findings recounted in that and other chapters, points towards an explanation. I purport to show how that account of why the infant is able to initiate and engage in protoconversation and affect attunement, also entails the expectation that the infant should be expected to able to show concern for the actual other. In conjunction with specifications of past and actual contexts and situational states, the thesis about the inborn companion space of the infant's virtual other will be seen to permit qualitative predictions of prosocial and caring behavior.
The thesis entails that there can be mutuality and reciprocity, even in the form of loving care bestowed upon the other, when included in the companion space in a mode of felt immediacy. If this is assumed as a premise, and some collateral assumptions are added, then one should expect, not only of the caregiver, but also on the part of the infant, a capacity to care and show concern for the actual other who fills the internal companion space of the infant's virtual other.
If the thesis is tenable there is an immediate ground for such caring ability in the infant: Potentials for relations of feeling with the actual other are inherent in the primary dyad organization of the infant's mind. The infant's feelings with the virtual other enables it to feel with the actual other in an immediate mode, not mediated by learning. If this is accepted, and the principle of the primary dialogic closure is assumed, then one should expect that the very young child, even the infant, can feel with the other even prior to the process of developing through socialization fragments of that which we label "concern for the other".
This expectation is somewhat in line with Winnicott's point about the capacity for concern being at the back of all constructive play, and emerging in the earlier emotional development of the child: "Concern refers to the fact that the individual cares........There is much reason to believe that concern...emerges in the earlier emotional development of the child.." (D. Winnicott, 1963)7
Returning to the newborn
Much of the time in the infant's life, especially during the first months, is devoted to the satisfaction of bodily needs. Between sleeping and being fed, literally filling the infant's bodily space with milk, also other unsatisfied needs and unpleasant bodily states, when not attended by the caregiver, give rise to crying for attendance and nuturance.
The infant will be dissatisfied, discontent, or distressed when nuturance needs are not attended, and appear happy, content, or pleased when attended. It is not strange, then, that Sigmund Freud and others came to see the satisfaction of organismic drives for nuturance as the overriding pattern in the newborn's life. Unless they are attended, engagement in reciprocal interaction with the actual other cannot come about.
Even though Freud considered the infant-mother relationship as the prototype of later love relationships, he attributed a kind of autonomous closure to the newborn. He compares the infant's first tentative feelers into the outside world to the way in which the amoeba puts out protrusions which "can be retracted at any time so that the form of the protoplasmic mass is restored."8 The infant extends feelers towards and is being felt by its environment, while excluding any reciprocal contact. There is autistic closure. He sees the infant to begin with as self-enclosed and autistic, that is, as lacking contact ability. He illustrates this view with metaphors from the animal realm. Not only the amoeba, but also the image of a bird's egg is used to describe the closure and inaccessibility of the newborn infant as a monadic unity:
"A neat example of a physical system shut off from stimuli of the external world, and able to satisfy even its nutritional requirements autistically...is afforded by a bird's egg with it's food supply enclosed in its shell" (Freud, 1911, p. 220n).9
Freud regards the recently born infant as a slave to the pleasure principle, who - provided one includes with it the care received from the mother - neglects and is closed to contact with the external world and others in it.10
His view has been criticised by Victoria Hamilton in a book devoted to up-rooting the Narcissus and Oedipus themes. One may, however, understand how Freud came to this view of the neonate child as self-enclosed in a manner that apparently exclude any other contact than sources of nutrition. If excluded or excluding himself from the process of birth and nurturing, the father may come to view the infant, shifting between sleeping, crying, and sucking, with the eyes mostly closed, as only oriented towards satisfying physical needs for sleep, milk, and warmth. When no mutual contact is experienced by the father, it is only to be expected that he may come to attribute to the infant the lack of ability for contact.
True, the behavior of many infants during the first weeks of life exhibits characteristics of being absorbed in a life-maintaining struggle for food and warmth between periods of sleep. Such a self-absorbing state, which according the present thesis still includes the virtual other, invites the label of the infant's being auto-absorbed to the exclusion of mutual and reciprocal contact with actual others. In object-relations theory that emerged on the basis of Freud, concerned with the way in which the other becomes a love-object, this notion of the autistic infant is retained in Margaret Mahler's version. When regarding the infant-mother dual unity in the metaphor of "symbiosis", she applies the term "normal autism" to the infant during the first weeks of life, "for in it, the infant seems to be in a state of primitive hallucinatory disorientation, in which need satisfaction belongs to his own omnipotent, autistic orbit." (Mahler, 1986, p.200)11
A qualitative prediction
Drive satisfaction patterns of crying for nuturance entail, however, that the infant is able to feel dissatisfaction, discontent, or distress when nuturance needs are not attended, and to feel satisfaction, contentment, or pleasure when they are attended to.
The state of apparent autism, attributed by Freud and Mahler, corresponds to a self-organizing state in which the actual other is not included in the infant's companion space. In such a self-absorbing state, involved, for example, in a basic struggle for air or nutrition, that is, for survival during the first weeks of life, there may for some, struggling to survive, be closure to the exclusion of the actual other. Yet, by virtue of the postulated dyadic organization of the mind, even though the actual alter does not participate in this closure, the virtual alter does, and will, when circumstances permit, come to invite replacement by the actual alter.
In chapter 3 ((q1) and (q2)), we saw how the infant-mother dyad can exhibit the form of the (proto)dialogical through the closed operation of one dyadic organization recreating itself through the actual other of each replacing the virtual other of each in a reciprocal mode of felt immediacy. Hence, the infant should have the capacity to feel with the actual other in a reciprocal modus by virtue of the actual other's filling the internal companion space of the infant's virtual other. This modus has been termed the mode of felt immediacy.
This felt presence of the actual other, then, is not merely a subjective feeling, private to the child, but an interpersonal feeling that qualifies the protodialogic network in which the infant participates with his actual companion. The feeling in the individual and the feeling that is actualized between individuals in a mode of felt immediacy were considered to have the same reciprocal form.
As we saw in chapter 3, in conjunction with the postulate about the virtual other as inborn (q1.3), the principle of dialogic closure permits these implications:
(q3) By virtue of the child's inherent feelings for itself involving its virtual other, the child should be expected to feel (for) the lifeform of its actual other.
(q4) By virtue of the participation of a complementary process in the primary operation of the mind, the child should be able to feel the complementary perspective of its the actual other.
This allowed us to consider the feeling in the infant and the feelings activated in an actualized relation to an actual other in terms of the same reciprocal self(re)creative form, involving, respectively, the virtual and the actual other. Hence, there is to be expected in the infant a capacity for interpersonal feelings, that is, for the infant to feel with the actual other who may come to be invited to fill the companion space of the infant's virtual other.
The term 'perspective' has not properly been defined. Since used here in propositions about domains of immediate, not mediate, understanding, its association with sensate feelings, rather than cognitively interpreted perception, need be emphasized. In this respect, perspectives may be considered as felt, in line with Whitehead and Susan Langer, that is, as involving feelings. I propose this definition:
(Def.) A perspective P is here defined as a family of viewpoints involving graded feelings that include and generate in a lived moment a world as felt on the basis of affective interests, and which invites (unless distortions) a complementary perspective, Q, accepted as a companion in a dialogue R(P,Q) between the perspectives.
Thus, as I shall return to in chapter 13 (devoted to perception) a participant perspective, P, can be considered as a related set of unsatisfied viewpoints, (p1, p2, ...,pn) which by virtue of gradation of feelings distinguish that which is to be included by the perspective, and which invite viewpoints belonging to a complementary perspective, Q, so that the graded feelings of self-satisfaction in P and Q feed upon the complementary relation to each other (Bråten, 1988b).12
Now, if we assume in accordance with (q3) that the infant, when content and wakeful, is able to feel (for) the lifeform of its actual other, then it cannot be ruled out that the infant qua participant in a dyad may be able to feel the other's states of discontent. In line with (q4) the infant may come to react to this feeling in the way of calling upon attendance from the complementary participant, who is the infant itself. This is a collateral assumption, not a proper part of the thesis. Together they allow for this qualitative prediction:
(q6) Much in the same way that the infant calls for attendance to its own needs for nuturance, the satisfied infant, by virtue of its being able to feel for the life(form) of the actual other, is expected to try to attend (or to call for attendance) to the needs of the actual other who is felt by the infant to be in a state of need or discontent.
This presupposes, as I shall take up in the next chapter, that the infant does not have a continuous background of having been neglected or refuted in its own calls for nuturance and invitation to engage in dyadic closure. If there is a history of neglect and abuse, such environmental impact may come to generate the converse of (q6) in the infant, evoking neglect and even abuse of the other. Otherwise, when opportunities and occasions arise, and own bodily states and history do not prevent it, the infant should be expected to attempt the kinds of behavior which by observer are labeled "prosocial behavior" when some actual other is felt by the infant to be in a state of discontent or distress. This does not presuppose that the infant is able to recognize such states in actual others in a reflective and knowingly manner of mediate understanding. The above expectation rests on the assumption that the infant can feel with the other in a mode of felt immediacy, which is the reciprocal mode that previously has been attributed to child-parent dyad.
The felt immediacy that is established with the actual other being invited into the dialogic ellipsis of the infant should permit the infant, if resources and situation permit, to exhibit indications of caring for the actual other who is sensitive to such indications. The very young child should be expected to be able to react to and reach towards the actual other (with indications of caring) when the latter is in distress.
Given the collateral about trying to attend to the actual other much in the same way as the infant calls for attention to itself when in state of need, the above cases may be accounted for. The qualitative prediction (q6) entails that across cultures, whenever circumstances, sensory-motoric abilities, and the actual state of the infant provide an occasion for the infant to show care for an actual other felt to be in need or distress, the infant should be expected to show such caring.
Observations of children showing concern
The above expectation appears to be born out by the above empirical findings and by many reported cases. For example, Anna Freud discovered with her co-worker the capacity in the very young for caring for other children in distress in a study of wartime nurseries during the second world war. They found some of them to exhibit loving-like relations, much in the same way as adults might do.13
The below two cases, for example, reported by her and Burlinghem exemplifies children showing concern for each other, as well as taking each other's perspectives:
(ø2) Rose (19 months) drank her cocoa. Edith (17 months) tried to take the mug from Rose's mouth. Looking at her in surprise, Rose then turns the mug and holds it for Edith so that she could have a drink.14 15
(ø3) Edith (21 months) tries hard to put the sock she has taken off on her foot again. Paul (23 months) rushes over to her, sits down on the floor and tries to put the sock on Edith's foot, his mouth open, his tongue far out, breathing heavily. Watching his face, Edith imitates his expression. For two or three minutes both are absorbed with an expression of utmost strain on their faces.16 Rose is turning the mug to Edith so that she could have her cocoa, and Paul is trying to help Edith, who in turn is seen to "imitate" his expression while they are engaged in this shared effort.17
These occurrences may be described in terms of the thesis. If Edith envelopes Paul into her participant space, then what appears as imitation on her part is the outward manifestation of a closed dyad in which there are completion and repetition of processes produced by the dyadic network. In this closure of concern Edith's "imitation" is the reciprocal mutual completion occurring within and exhibited by the operationally closed system of Edith and Paul, not an isolated act by Edith qua a monadic organization.
The twofold feat of Rose appears more impressive, first, by her immediately taking the perspective of Edith (by turning the mug); second, by her doing so at what might appear to the observer at her own expense (since she had not completed her own drinking). Again, given the complementary perspective of a virtual other already participating in Edith's communicative organization, her turning the mug so as to permit it to be used from the complementary perspective of Edith as her actual other is to be expected.
But what about her indicating concern for the other's need, and Paul's obvious concern in case ø3? Like the above reports on prosocial capacity in the child, the loving-like and caring relations exhibited by the wartime children observed by Anna Freud and her coworkers are to be expected from entailments of the principle of dialogic closure. The child's companion space is open to fulfillment by the actual other, in these cases, by the presence of the other child who invites concern and, if permitted by the social context, may engage in a reciprocal mode of felt immediacy. In this perspective can the cases of Rose and Edith, and of Paul and Edith, be considered. Edith's "imitation" is the reciprocal mutual completion occurring within and exhibited by the operationally closed system of Edith and Paul, not an isolated act by Edith qua a monadic organization.
But the above cases occur in a wartime nursery, involving children deprived of their families. Cases similar in pattern to case ø2, however, are reported to occur in daily-life family contexts. Here are two examples, reported, respectively by Zick Rubin and Marian Radke Yarrow (as observed by a mother):
(ø4) "Elihu (fourteen month old) has a cracker in his hand. Matthew waddles over to him, extends his hand and makes a sound. Elihu looks at Matthew, then breaks off a piece of the cracker and extends it to him. Matthew takes the piece and eats it."18
(ø5) "He (sixteen month old) comes into the living room and finds a friend (same age) sobbing; he becomes suddenly sober, walks over to friend, pats him, then picks up a toy and gives it to him."19
Is this merely the outcome of a cultural learning and socialization process imposing prosocial behavior, much in the same way in which submittance to abuse may contribute to the emergence of abusive behavior by the child? This possibility cannot be ruled out. Unlike case ø1, these infants are well into their second year. The pattern, however, of case ø5 resembles the pattern of Katharina (five months) who comforted her elder sibling that was crying. In the case of Katharina's comforting her sibling her prosocial reaction is hardly the outcome of a cultural process. It may be seen as the outcome of the felt complementary perspective of the child's innate virtual other with a primary space for encompassing the actual other. Also the above cases may be interpreted to come about in this way: by virtue of the infant's feeling with his virtual other, the infant feels with the actual other in need or distress who replaces the infant's virtual other.
Children in different worlds (Whiting and Edwards)
Let us now consider some studies of twelve communities around the world in which social interaction involving children between 2 and 10 years old have been observed, recorded and compared. As we saw the high percentage of positive social behavior found on the part of the 2- and 3-year-old, and the decline of sociability with age, suggest that positive social behavior is not learned (B. Whiting and C. Edwards, 1988: 167; 171).
They report on recorded, observed, and compared interpersonal behavior, mostly dyadic, involving children between 2 and 10 years old. It is a report from cross-cultural studies across twelve different communities in the world carried out by groups of researchers in periods between 1954 and 1975, reported by Beatrice Blyth Whiting and Carolyn Pope Edwards in collaboration with others.20 Behind the report is a group of researchers, some of which have collected parallel data on thirteen samples of children on four continents and organized the data in a way that facilitates comparison.
134 children (between 3 and 10 years) were studied in six communities in the years 1954-1956.21 More recent samples, involving 259 children (from 0 to 10 years) were studied in six other communities in the late 60s and early 70s.22 The periods of observation per child range from 45 to 360 minutes. Nine of the twelve communities studied are primarily agricultural, with populations ranging from 200 to 3000. Three sample communities consist of families in urban communities, including Bhubaneswar in Orissa of India, Kariobangi in Nairobi of Kenya, and Orchard Town i U.S.A.
The investigators use Margaret Mead's classification of age groups, and define them in specific chronological ages in this way: lap child is the infant (0 - 1 year); knee child is the toddler (2 - 3 years); and yard child is the preschooler (4 - 5 years).
Transcultural similarities are found in the ways in which children behave towards their mothers. As they move from infancy to childhood, their style of dependency (on the mother) tends to shift from more physical and intimate modes to modes that involve verbal skills and competence in socially approved behavior.
But there are also cultural differences. Mothers in some cultural groups who frequently carry and hold their infants appear to influence their children to retain the physical and intimate style of expressing dependency also throughout the knee-and yard-child period. In contrast, infants in other groups, used to holding devices such as cribs, cots, hammocks, cradles, earlier move to more verbal and distal styles, based at first on crying or calling out for the mother.23
The actual work situation of the mothers are seen to influence the direction of their encouraging their children. In communities where they are especially involved in subsistency work and rely on their children's assistance, they encourage obedience and responsibility. In communities where the mothers do not work outside the home, and exhibit the largest proportion of maternal control (dominating and reprimanding the children), the children have the highest dominance/aggression scores (mostly verbal aggression (insulting behaviors) and commands coded as "seeks submission" of the other). This applies to four communities, Orchard Town and three North Indian communities.24 Whiting and Edwards (1988: 182) define these two different modes of dominant behavior in relation to the other: Egoistic dominance involves attempts to alter the other's behavior to satisfy own desires without consideration of the other's needs or wants. In contrast, prosocial dominance involves attempts to persuade the other to behave in a socially approved manner so as to benefit the group. Egoistic dominance is found to decline with age (p. 171), while prosocial dominance increases with age. The latter result reflects among other things that children close in age to knee children tend to treat them as companions rather than someone to be trained (p.192). The 6- to 10-year-old children are more prosocially dominant than the 4- to 5-year-old; the latter reprimand more and are more egoistically dominant (p.194).
A nuturant act is defined as an act intending to satisfy the other's wants and needs, including things essential for survival. In the category of wants, concrete and emotional, are included desires for such social responsiveness, reassurance, physical contact, verbal comfort, approval, etc. Thus nuturant behavior is classified to comprise acts judged to have the intention of satisfying such needs and wants, including helping or supporting behavior offered to another perceived to be in a state of need. By nuturance in sum are included offers of food or drink, toys, help, comfort, protection, attention, approval, helpful information, etc. - initiated by the caregiver or in comply to the other perceived to be needing or wanting something. The researchers report a similarity across cultures in the high proportion of nuturant behavior directed to very young children by social partners, and relate this to Lorenz' studies.25 An attempt to account for the variation in the frequency of naturant behavior and friendly interaction in terms of these "babyish" surface criteria would be inconsistent with the thesis of the virtual other. It entails that "normally" there is a reciprocal invitation to the actual other on both sides to fill the complementary participant space of the virtual other in a mode of felt immediacy. If the adult, due to depression, somatic illness or fatigue, or the infant, due to premature birth or sickness, or other kinds of handicap is unable to invite the actual other, or unable to comply to the invitation of the actual other in a continued reciprocal engagement in a mode of felt immediacy, the dialogic organization of both is unable to recreate itself in that particular dyad. Colwyn Trevarthen (1989) has pointed out that .......(Newsletter)
The rate of nuturant behavior that seeks to meet the need of the lap child was found to increase linearly with age, and significantly so between the youngest and the oldest children age grades (p. 171). But the profile of positive interaction (which includes naturant and friendly social behavior) with lap children holds even for 2-3 years old. Of 12 boys and 4 girls in the child-infant dyads, more than 80 percent of their recorded acts are positive, only 8 percent nonpositive (seeking submission, assaults, insults, or reprimands) (p.163).
Sociability is defined as friendly behavior, involving greeting, chatting with or relating to the other with the apparent intention of engaging in pleasurable interaction.
Verbal sociability is seen to increase as a relative proportion of children's behavior in relation to their mothers become more socially competent and less dependent (p.155). Sociability exhibited by children in interaction with 2-year-olds is found to decline with age (pp. 171-172).
The high relative frequency of positive social behavior (including nuturant behavior) found on the part of the 2- and 3-year-old may indicate that there could be a natural ground for basis for caring and prosociality that is not learnt, manifesting itself in spite of different cultures and community settings. The authors make this point:
"In addition, the high percentage of positive behavior of the 2-and 3-year-olds suggests that this type of behavior is not learned." (Whiting and Edwards, with others, 1988:167).26
Furthermore, some of the results suggest that negative behavior may be traced back to cultural learning. If positive and prosocial behavior does not come about through cultural learning only, then an account in terms of an innate ground, albeit modified by learning, is called for.
A precautionairy note
As we have seen from the above studies and case observations there appears to be a natural cross-cultural ground in infancy for exhibiting care and concern, when the circumstances and means permit. An explanation has been offered. By virtue of feeling the lifeform of the virtual other, inherent in the dyadic constitution of the infant's mind, the infant is able for feel the lifeform and take the felt perspective of the actual other also when the latter is need of being attended to. The infant is able to call upon actual others to attend its own needs. When not forthcoming, it will turn this call upon itself, that is, upon its virtual other, attending itself in a self-organizing manner. When an actual other in distress in included in the infant's companion space the actual other will elicit attendance in the infant. If there is motoric capacity, and circumstances permit, the infant will exhibit caring behavior, by virtue of feeling the distress of the actual other filling its companion space in felt immediacy.
However, a precautionary note is called for. Even if some of the above results should be taken to point in a confirmative direction, Popper's falsifiability criterion may still apply: If at least one culture and community could be found with no occurrences of infant prosociality in spite of occasions, opportunities, and infant resources to exhibit prosociality, and this lack of occurrences were shown not to be due to pathology or mediating experiences, for example, through specific child-rearing practice or actual adult intervention, then the above account of the immediate ground for prosociality may be invalid. Hinde (1986), for example, points out that circumstances in which it is adaptive to show a propensity for aggressive behavior are not necessarily the opposite to those for prosociality.27
Paul Harris (1987), reviewing a large number of studies on children and emotions, including his own studies of emotional understanding, concedes that the infant may have an innate capacity to recognize the significance of emotional expressions in the adult. But he is reluctant to accept Darwin's view that there is an innate mechanism in the infant that permits the correlate arousal of "the same" emotion in the infant as expressed by the adult. Harris argues that infants may react appropriately to the actual other's emotion even if they lack capacity to share the other's emotion (Harris, 1989: 25). They can still imagine themselves in the other's shoes. But such an ability to simulate others presuppose, as we have seen, a ground of immediate pre-understanding (in domain (D1)) that enables the child through interactional experiences to form means for simulation and reprentations (in domain (D3)).
The above account in terms of entailment of the thesis (q) does not preclude that other socio- and psycho-biological factors, as well as cognitive and mediational processes of experience, will have an impact upon the individual performances of children in showing care and concern. But it does preclude that children exhibiting care and concern do so only as a result of environmental learning.
An implicit entailment of (q) is that distorting environmental impact, in line with the complement (p), is a condition for children to exhibit hurting and asocial behavior. As any parent has noticed, children, even toddlers, do hurt each other. Observations of children deliberately hurting the other, or showing indifference to others in distress, have been reported by Anna Freud and Berlinghem, by Judy Dunn and Carol Kendrick, by Mary Main and Carol George, and by others. Harris (1989) concludes from such studies that hurting, as well as comforting, appear to stem from environmental impact and cognitive factors. Let us turn again to some of these studies with this and the above perspective in mind.
221091 NOTES TO CHAPTER 6
1E. Waters, D. Hay and J. Ritchers: Infant-Parent Attachment and the Origin of Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviour in: D. Olweus, J. Block and M. Radke-Yarrow (eds.) Development of Antisocial and Prosocial Behaviour, Academic Press, New York 1986, pp.97-125.
2As suggested in chapter 4, it is difficult to envisage how such an approach in terms of externally linked control systems can be used in the modelling of the perfectly synchronized protodialoging sometimes exhibited by the infant-adult dyad, especially if internal symbolic representations are resorted to as mediating means of reciprocal control. Two pioneers in the cybernetic modelling of control systems, Oliver Selfridge and William Powers, have recently proposed striking artifacts and simulation models, capable of coordinated reactions to the movements of another person or object. These models do without internal symbolic representations. Co-ordination of movements in one human organism involves co-ordinated organization of inputs through sensory pairs (two eyes, two ears), of processing involving two brain hemispheres, and of movements of motoric pairs (two legs, two arms). I am open to the possibility that simulation at the micro-level of an infant-adult dyad in the infant's pre-linguistic stage may warrant consideration in terms of their respective frames. In chapter 13 some neurocomputational models of perception will be considered.
3A. Freud and D. Burlinghem: Infants without Families. Reports on the Hamstead Nurseries 1939-1945, in: The Writings of Anna Freud, vol. III, International Universities Press, New York 1973, pp.574-575.
4C. Zahn-Waxler and M. Radke-Yarrow: The Development of Altruism, in: N. Eisenberg (ed.) The Development of Prosocial Behaviour, Academic Press, New York 1982, pp. 109-138. See also H. Rheingold and G.A. Emery: 'The Nurturant Acts of Very Young Children' in: D. Olweus, J. Block, and R. Radke-Yarrow: Development of Antisocial and Prosocial Behaviour Academic Press, Orlando 1986, pp. 75-96.
5C. Zahn-Waxler and M. Radke-Yarrow (1982): The development of altruism. In: N. Eisenberg-Berg (ed): The Development of Prosocial Behavior. New york: Academic Press, 1982.
6M.L. Hoffman: Developmental Synthesis of Affect and Cognition and its Implications for Altruistic Motivation, Developmental Psychology, 1975, 11 (5), pp.605-622. See also J. Alper: The Roots of Morality, Science 85, 1985, March issue, pp.70-76.
7Donald Winnicott: The Development of the Capacity for Concern. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 27, 1963, pp. 167-76. I am grateful to Lynne Murray for sending me this paper. See also p. 342 in L. Murray: Winnicott and the Developmental Psychology of Infancy, British Journal of Psychotherapy, vol. 5(3), 1989, pp.333-348.
8S. Freud:,,,,1971, p. 139 in Hamilton op.cit...p.3. However, the phenomena that Freud may have observed, of the infant extending "feelers" towards others around it and then "retracting" them, may be paraphrased in terms of the present thesis in the following way: the infant extends invitations to actual others to fullfil the space of the infant's virtual other, and may at any time, when no actual other comes to fill that space, retract in order to recreate the dialogic with the child's virtual other.
9Sigmund Freud: Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning (1911), in: The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (S.E.) 12, London: The Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1958, p.202n. (Quoted in Victoria Hamilton: Narcissus and Oedipus, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982, p.3; and by M. Mahler in: P. Buckley (ed.): Essential Papers on Object Relations, New York: New York University Press, 1986, p.200).
10Sigmund Freud: Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning (1911), in: P. Gay: The Freud Reader, W. W. Norton and Company, New York 1989, p.302n.
11M. Mahler: On Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation, in: P. Buckley (ed.): Essential Papers on Object Relations, New York: New York University Press, 1986, p.200-220).
12This definition is introduced in S. Bråten, ...1988..with reference to Whitehead and others...
13See A. Freud and D. Burlinghem: Infants without Families, in: The Writings of Anna Freud, vol.III, International Universities Press, New York, 1973. I am grateful to Sophie Freud for referring me to their report. In it time it passed relatively unnoticed for a long time, since it did not fit current theories of child development and could be discarded as atypical, since it concerned children deprived of their parental family, in a wartime situation.
14A. Freud and D. Burlinghem: op.cit. 1973, pp.574-575.
15A. Freud and D. Burlinghem: op.cit. 1973, pp.574-575.
16A. Freud and D. Burlinghem: op.cit. 1973, pp.574-575.
17A. Freud and D. Burlinghem: op.cit. 1973, pp.574-575.
18Zick Rubin: Children's Friendship. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 1980, p.20.
19Marian Radke Yarrow: "Some perspectives on research on peer relations", in: Lewis and Rosenblum (eds.): Friendships and Peer Relations, p.302 (quoted in: Z. Rubin: op.cit., 1980, p.20).
20B. B. Whitehead and C. P. Edwards, in collaboration with C. R. Ember, G. M. Erchak, S. Harkness, R. L. Monroe, R. H. Monroe, S. B. Nerlove, S. Seymour, C. M. Super, T. S. Weisner, M. Wenger: Children of Different Worlds. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988.
21In Nyasongo, Kenya, by Robert Levine and Barbara Levine Lloyd; Juxtlahuca by A. K. Romney and Romaine Romney; Tarong, Philippines by William Nydegger and Corinne Nydegger; Taira, Okinawa, by Thomas Maretzki and Hatsumi Martezki; Khalapur, India, by Leigh Minturn; and Orchard town, U.S.A., by John Fischer and Ann Fischer.
22In Kien-taa, Liberia, by Gerald Erchak (1970-71); Kokwet, Kenya by Sara Harkness and Charles Super (1972-75); Kisa and Kariobangi, Kenya by Thomas Weisner (1970-72); Ngeca, Kenya by Beatrice Whiting (1968-70; 1973); and Bhubaneswar, India by Susan Seymour (1965-67).
24ibid., pp.153; 157-158.
25Whiting and Edwards (1988:7; 163; 167) points out that they find the description of Lorenz (1943) of "releasing features" of the infant's appearance to be persuasive. He suggests that their proportionately large head, round and protruding foreheads, small facial features, and short, elastic limbs will elicit nuturant behavior from adults and children. According to some studies, however, prematurely born and "sickly" infants appear to be less able than "normal" infants to elicit and maintain attachment behavior and are, like handicapped infants, more vulnerable to rejection, neglect, or inadequate care, even though they may exhibit the physical characteristics listed by Lorenz. They may be less able to respond contingently to the actual other, to keep the interaction going, often appear inconsolable, and do not cease crying as immediately or completely as other infants when the caretaker invites them to play. Whiting and Edwards (referring to Lamb, 1978; Johnson, 1981; Korbin, 1981; and Zeit and Prince, 1982) do not consider that this invalidates the persuasiveness of the Lorenz' "babyish" criteria for eliciting adult nuturence.
26The parenthesis about Lorenz is inserted by the present author on the basis of the text preceding the quoted part in Whiting and Edwards, op.cit., p.167.
27R.A. Hinde: 'Some Implications of Evolutionary Theory and Comparative Data for the Study of Human Prosocial and Aggressive Behavior' in: D.Olweus, J. Block and M. Radke-Yarrow: Development of Antisocial and Prosocial Behavior, Academic Press, Orlando 1986, pp.13-31 (p.29).
TO SEE THE INDEX OF TEXTS IN THIS SITE, CLICK HERE