Michigan State University

College of Social Science

Human Development Initiative

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The Human Development Initiative, begun in 2009, is a community of scholars throughout the university interested in development across the lifespan. The initiative creates venues where scholars involved in cutting-edge research in the social and health sciences (including genetics, neuroscience, and psychosocial development) can focus on the intersections between their own work and that of other researchers. We invite faculty and graduate students to join us at our bi-weekly brown bag speaker series and our fall and spring colloquia.

Vallotton Claire Vallotton
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of California, Davis

Research Statement
The Vallotton lab investigates the development of social-emotional, cognitive, and communication skills from infancy through early childhood by “listening” to infants’ behaviors, including their use of gestures and signs. They study what goes on in the minds of preverbal children, and how this is influenced by the qualities of parent-child interactions, early childcare and education, child maltreatment, and early intervention. The Vallotton lab takes a transactionist perspective – examining the mutual influences between domains within the individual, and the mutual influences of both infant and adult on each other in interactions and relationships. Dr. Vollotton’s research is translational in that it has implications for helping adults listen to children’s behavior, thus improving the quality training for the early child care and education workforce.

Research Publications    
2009Vallotton, C.D. (in press). Opening our minds to the baby’s mind: How “listening” to infant signs complements and extends our knowledge of infants and their development. Infant Mental Health Journal
2009Vallotton, C.D. & Ayoub, C.A. (in press). Symbols build communication and thought: The role of gestures and words in the development of engagement skills and social-emotional concepts during toddlerhood. Social Development.
2008Vallotton, C.D. (2008). Signs of emotion: What can preverbal children “say” about internal states? Infant Mental Health Journal, 29, 234-258.
2005Vallotton, C.D. (2005). Effects of symbolic gestures as a caregiving tool: Children's social and language development and mothers' perceptions and behavior. Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, Vol 65(9-B), pp. 4877.