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June 2023

On the ecological validity of measuring the sensitivity of professional caregivers: The laboratory versus the nursery

Author(s): Melhuish, E. C.

Journal/Book: Eur J Psychol Educ. 1996; 11: Rua Jardim Do Tabaco, 44, Lisboa 1100, Portugal. Inst Superior Psicologia Aplicada. 169-176.

Abstract: Much research indicates the importance of interactional experience for young children in developing their competence. In particular sensitive responsiveness in interaction has been associated with beneficial developmental outcomes and is often regarded as a central component of good quality child care. This study considers some alternative ways of measuring the sensitivity of caregivers. Thirty professional caregiver-infant dyads were observed in three different situations: In the laboratory during free-play (I), during a task (2) and at the nursery itself while caring for IO infants with a colleague (3). Results indicated that their sensitivity was highest in situation 1, this score was moderately related to the sensitivity score in situation 2 and to that in the nursery. The sensitivity scores in situations 2 and 3 were not significantly related. The data support the view that sensitivity is subject to contextual influences and that researchers need to think carefully about the when and where of such measurements.

Note: Article F Goossens, Free Univ Amsterdam, Dept Educ, Van der Boechorst 1, Bt Amsterdam, Netherlands

Keyword(s): ecology of day care; professional caregiving; sensitive responsiveness; STRANGE SITUATION; ATTACHMENT; MOTHERS; BEHAVIOR

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