The Infant and Child Research Lab is a dedicated laboratory space situated in the School of Psychology to support observational research with infants, children and their families and to provide students with opportunities to observe and learn about developmental research. In the lab we are interested in studying the developmental environments of infants and children and how they relate to aspects of child development. We use primarily structured observation of interactions, supported by classic infant and child testing paradigms, to study the relationship between interaction and developmental outcomes, especially language acquisition and development, emotional development, parenting and family systems. In addition to AV equipment, the lab has facilities to gather independent sensory data (e.g., cardiovascular, and eye tracking data) to support relational psychophysiological research from a biopsychosocial perspective on parenting/ parent-child interactions.
Work in this lab focusses on the identification and analysis of important interpersonal interactional variables for overall optimal child development. The importance of observing and analysing interaction for understanding developmental processes is well established. Our research uses ‘social psychophysics’ to observe, measure and analyse in detail how infants, children and their parents react and respond to each other in real-time naturalistic interaction, and to study how these patterns of interaction relate to later developmental outcomes. For example, the ways in which adults respond to and engage babies aids language development during the very important early years. This type of approach assumes that influences operate between parents and children such that parents’ behaviours shape childrens’ behaviours which, in turn, influence, parents’ behaviours.