Research Day 1 (23/06/21)

introduction to the data for my research

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Today was the first proper day of my research period!

My project focused on an area of psychology known as joint attention. Engaging in joint attention; where individuals share information about objects and events in the environment; is a crucial predictor of children’s later language and social cognition development.

Joint attention typically emerges around 9 months old. My mentor Prof Slocombes overall research aim is to investigate if joint attention is uniquely human and how it differs culturally and across species. As a result Prof Slocombes research team asked UK and Ugandan mothers to direct their infants attention towards objects just how they naturally would. At the moment their results suggest that Ugandan infants can engage in joint attention a lot younger than UK mothers.

Whilst working as an RA for Prof Slocombe I wondered if one of the reasons UK and Ugandan infants differ in joint attention is due to the different maternal strategies used by the mothers to direct their infants attention. Therefore, for my project I have been given access to the videos of UK and Ugandan mothers directing their infants attention and I plan to code the different strategies used to see if there are any statistical differences across the different cultures attention directing strategies.

On my first day Prof Slocombe gave me a few broad categories to look out for and I spent the day watching videos of the UK and Ugandan mothers and infants. By the end of the day i had watched around 7-8 hours of videos and made more detailed notes in a spreadsheet about what were the most frequently occurring attention direction strategies for both the cultures in preparation for a meeting with my mentor and the research team the next day.

Ellen Lavender

Scholar, University of York

I'm a 2nd year psychology MSci student specialising in developmental disorders. My project focuses around the development attention in infants and if certain maternal strategies scaffold joint attention and how this varies cross culturally in the UK and Uganda.

I'm really excited for the Laidlaw programme by building my confidence through the leadership programme and exploring my passion for research further!