Indirect effects and infants' reaction to strangers

Candice Feiring, Michael Lewis, Mark D. Starr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Examined whether an infant's reaction to a stranger would be indirectly influenced by the infant's observing a stranger-third party interaction. It was expected that the infant's subsequent willingness to play with a stranger would be influenced by prior observation of a positive interaction between a stranger and a third party, especially if the third party was the infant's mother. 45 15-mo-old infants were exposed to 1 of 3 situations. In Condition 1, the S observed its mother interacting with an unfamiliar adult (UA2) in a positive manner; in Condition 2, the S observed UA2 interacting with another unfamiliar adult (UA1) in a positive manner; and in Condition 3, UA2 did not interact with the mother or UA1. Following exposure to Conditions 1, 2, or 3, UA2 approached the S to play. Ss in Conditions 1 and 2 were less wary of UA2 and more willing to interact with the mother than were Ss in Condition 3. Furthermore, Ss in Condition 1 showed more positive affect when offered a toy by the stranger and accepted a toy more in the last minute of play. Results suggest indirect effects influence social interactions and show that significant others can play an important role in mediating these effects. (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-491
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


  • observation of stranger-third party interaction, reaction to stranger, infants with mean age of 15 mo


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