Affect-biased attention reflects the prioritization of attention to stimuli that individuals deem to be motivationally and/or affectively salient. Normative affect-biased attention is early-emerging, providing an experience-expectant function for socioemotional development. Evidence is limited regarding how reactive and regulatory aspects of temperament may shape maturational changes in affect-biased attention that operate at the earliest stages of information processing. This study implemented a novel eye-tracking paradigm designed to capture attention vigilance in infants. We assessed temperamental negative affect (NA) and attention control (AC) using laboratory observations and parent-reports, respectively. Among infants (N = 161 in the final analysis) aged 4 to 24 months (Mean = 12.05, SD = 5.46; 86 males), there was a significant age effect on fixation latency to emotional versus neutral faces only in infants characterized with high NA and high AC. Specifically, in infants with these temperament traits, older infants showed shorter latency (i.e., greater vigilance) toward neutral faces, which are potentially novel and unfamiliar to infants. The age effect on vigilance toward emotional faces was not significant. The findings support the argument that the development of affect-biased attention is associated with multiple temperament processes that potentially interact over time.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology
- Behavioral Neuroscience