Social Shaping of Infant Vocalization

Julie Gros-Louis & Jennifer Miller

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

Social Shaping of Infant Vocalization

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  • Social shaping of infant vocalizations refers to the process by which social responses to vocalizations result in an increase in infants' vocal production, sometimes including more developmentally advanced vocalizations. Unlike traditional views of shaping or operant conditioning in animal learning, successive approximations (i.e., behavior that is similar to the goal behavior) of more developmentally advanced vocalizations are not the only behaviors reinforced. Although vocal precursors can be considered successive approximations of more advanced speechlike sounds, in social shaping of infant vocalizations, selective reinforcement of certain sounds is not necessary to observe effects of social feedback. Yet, similar to reinforcement in animal learning, temporal contingency is a key.

    Studies in the late 1950s and 1960s showed that infant vocalizations could be conditioned via operant reinforcement with social ...

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