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Stranger Wariness

The phenomenon of stranger wariness has been described in the developmental literature as the dysregulation that infants may experience, and express, when approached by an unfamiliar person, particularly in novel situations. An infant who is exhibiting anxiety in the presence of a stranger may look sad, seek contact with the infant’s primary caregiver(s), and/or exhibit other behaviors associated with anxiety and distress. More recent research has also described the psychophysiological indicators of stress, such as increased heart rate and production of salivary cortisol, that are also associated with the more familiar behavioral manifestations of stranger wariness. This entry will review research on stranger wariness and, from a life-span perspective, discuss the emergence of stranger wariness in the context of other emerging developmental competencies as ...

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