communication, the umwelt, and human infant crying psc 113 jeff schank

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Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

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Page 1: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying

PSC 113Jeff Schank

Page 2: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Outline

• The Umwelt Again• An assessment/management (A/M) approach

– Management capitalizes on the assessment systems of targets– Communication involves mutual efforts to regulate one another’s

behavior– Communication is based on an organism’s Umwelt

• Human infant crying– Attachment– Crying is designed to capitalize on motivational and emotional

systems of caregivers– What about colic?– The evolutionary origins of crying

Page 3: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Questions about Crying

• Is crying referentially specific?• Is crying a true indicator of specific needs

(internal states) of the infant?• What effects does crying have on caregivers or

potential care givers?• Can crying malfunction?• How has evolution shaped crying and adult

responses to crying?

Page 4: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Umwelt Again

• We just talked about the perceptive-reactive world of animals

• Different species have different Umwelten, but as we saw, the perceptive-reactive worlds of organisms change as they develop

• Humans are not born with language and so an infant cannot “tell” a caregiver what it specifically needs

• If infants cannot communicate their specific needs, then their needs have to be assessed by caregivers

Page 5: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Assessment/Management (A/M)

• Don Owings proposed a conceptual framework for theorizing about infant crying as a form of animal communication

• He called his approach the assessment/management (A/M) approach

• On the A/M approach, communication is an inter-individual process built upon two types of individual activity

– Assessment: self-interested behaviors based on the extraction of clues from other individuals and their contexts

– Management: self-interested efforts to maintain or change current circumstances, in part, by managing the behavior of others

Page 6: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

A/M Examples

• This fits with the view that communication is at a higher level of organization than the individual

• Individuals do not have to belong to the same species

Page 7: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

The Management Side

• Management capitalizes on the assessment systems of targets

• That is, one individual can manipulate the behavior of another by emitting signals that take advantage of the way the target assesses those signals– Signaling (crying) works by capitalizing on the

assessment systems of targets (caregivers)– The assessment systems of targets (caregivers) are

major determinants of the effectiveness of signaling (crying) at eliciting care giving

Page 9: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Communication as Mutual Regulation of Behavior

• Communication on the A/M approach is a system and it can malfunction (e.g., laughing gulls)

• Evolutionary changes in the A/M system of one type of individual can affect the A/M system of another

• Is the interaction between predators or parasites and fall webworms communication?

Page 10: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Communication is Based on an Organism’s Umwelt

• This may create asymmetries in communication• In this case, assessment by the caregiver is weak but management

by the infants dramatically affects the caregiver’s assessment systems

Page 11: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Umwelt, Attachment, and Crying• The notion of attachment comes from early animal behavior

research of Konrad Lorenz on imprinting and presupposes the idea of the Umwelt

Page 12: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Umwelt, Attachment, and Crying

• Similarly, human infants attach to caregivers among the many objects in their Umwelt

Page 13: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Attachment and The Strange Situation

• On the A/M approach, either assessment or management issues with the caregiver may explain the insecure attachment relationship

• This is the new component that A/M adds to attachment theory

Page 14: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Secure Attachment• When an infant is securely attached to its caregiver, the infant is more willing to

explore and interact with the world because the caregiver is the focus of security to which the infant can safely retreat

Page 15: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Insecure Attachment• Because the attachment relationship from the point of view of the infant

is not secure (or strong), its interaction with the world is much reduced

Page 16: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Assessment/Management View of Attachment

• Attachment relationship are analyzed in terms of the Umwelten of the child and caregiver

• A caregiver with strong assessment/management skills is more likely to have a secure attachment relationship with a child

• A caregiver with weak assessment/management skills is more likely to have an insecure attachment relatioship with a child

Page 17: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

Crying

• Crying is designed to capitalize on motivational and emotional systems of caregivers

• A paradoxical feature of crying – It’s a signaling system that evolved to solicit

caregiving– But it can also be aversive to caregivers that it can

at times evoke abuse of the crying infant

Page 18: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

What about Colic?

• On the A/M approach, colic may be a byproduct of cultural evolution in technologically-advanced cultures

• In Western cultures there is often greater distance maintained between infant and caregiver

• When an infant is at a great distance from the caregiver, there will be lags in responses

• In less technologically advanced societies, infant and caregiver are often in very close proximity almost all of the time, so that there are very rapid responses to crying

Page 19: Communication, The Umwelt, and Human Infant Crying PSC 113 Jeff Schank

The Evolutionary Origins of Crying• How did crying evolve?• It may have first evolved as a byproduct of other physiological processes,

and thereby give direct indications of infant distress• Ultrasonic “retrieval calls” of infant rats are one possibility• Mark Blumberg presented evidence that, in rats, ultrasonic vocalizations

have originated as a byproduct Laryngeal braking (involves the constriction of the larynx following inspiration, resulting in prolonged expiratory duration and enhanced gas exchange) to utilize brown adipose tissue for producing heat

• According Blumberg,– maternal retrieval evoked by ultra sounds originated through a process of active

caregiver assessment based on these sounds– And does not require infant management– The sounds are a cue and not a management system