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(2022-08) Cox, Miranda; Mastergeorge, Ann; Wang, Zhe; Weiser , Dana
Substantial empirical evidence exists regarding the benefits of infant-directed speech (IDS), also known as “motherese,” for developing infants and children. Recent studies indicate that IDS facilitates the development of joint attention and emotional recognition in infants and young children. And, recent studies in robotic technologies have suggested robotic paradigms as a possible efficacious tool for facilitating and enhancing social interaction skills in very young children. There is currently scant evidence about the potential benefits of utilizing robots containing a similar speech register to IDS. The current study utilized eye-tracking paradigms to measure and examine infants and toddlers’ social gaze preferences for human agents performing “motherese” versus robot agents performing in a similar speech register to IDS, thus designated “robotese.” The results indicated that infants and toddlers display similar gaze allocation patterns towards “robotese” and “motherese” stimuli, were able to identify and allocate attention towards both agents as social interaction partners, and were capable of following triadic engagement processes present within a display of human-robot interaction. Implications of gaze allocation and preference in both typical and atypical populations of young children are discussed.