The present study investigates the relationship between individual differences in children's temperament and their responsiveness to joint attention. Twenty-five 11-month-old children (12 girls and 13 boys) were presented with a gaze-following task in a laboratory setting, and parent reports of temperament were collected. Findings indicate that children's ability to correctly follow an experimenter's gaze differed as a function of individual temperament predispositions. Children high in perceptual sensitivity and negative affect engaged in relatively less frequent gaze-following, consistent with reports from previous research. However analysis of the dimension of orienting/effortful control produced an unexpected finding; that children low in effortful control were relatively more likely to respond to joint attentional bids. Overall, these findings are consistent with a view of temperament as a moderator of children's engagement in joint attention, and raise the possibility that joint attention may be a mechanism underlying previous reports of temperament–language relationships.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/wallace-dixon/32/