The Baby Babble Project
In the Baby Babble Project, we focused on communication and social development of children in their first two years of life. We would like to understand how infants start to communicate and interact with others, particularly how they develop the ability to share attention with others. Sharing attention about objects or events is a key skill for children to develop as it is important for language learning, cooperation and successful social interactions.
In the past, research in this area has mostly focused on children in Western cultures. This means we currently have a very biased view of what factors help joint attention and social skills develop in infants and how joint attention helps later social and communicative skills to emerge. Although we expect children of different cultures to ultimately develop similar skills – how they get there could differ greatly across cultures.
Our ‘Baby Babble’ project therefore involved studying the development of infants in the UK and in Uganda. We followed the infants for the first two years of their lives and tried to understand how their different cultural environments might influence their social development. Being able to witness this important period of their lives is a truly wonderful opportunity for us and we are very thankful for all mothers who made this possible!
This project is funded by a European Research Council grant to Professor Katie Slocombe.
The Babble Buddies Project
Our Babble Buddies Project is an extension of the Baby Babble project. Here, we want to understand what motivates children to behave how they “should” behave, and how this helps to explain the development of children’s desire to help and share with others.
All societies follow “social norms”, which are social rules about how we “should” and “should not” behave. Many of these social norms concern “prosocial behaviours” such as helping and sharing with others. However, different societies often follow different norms! This means that children must somehow learn the norms of their society, and develop the motivation to follow those norms, if they are to become accepted members of their communities. Working with children from both the UK and Uganda is an exciting way for us to learn more about these aspects of children’s social development.
Part of this project will also be trying to understand how children’s behaviour and abilities during infancy might explain social behaviour at 3 to 5 years of age, as we will be able to link infancy data collected during the Baby Babble project with data collected earlier during the Babble Buddies project.
The Babble Buddies project is funded by a Leverhulme grant awarded to Dr. Bailey House.