A Person- and Time-Varying Vector Autoregressive Model to Capture Interactive Infant-Mother Head Movement Dynamics

Meng Chen, Sy Miin Chow, Zakia Hammal, Daniel S. Messinger, Jeffrey F. Cohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Head movement is an important but often overlooked component of emotion and social interaction. Examination of regularity and differences in head movements of infant-mother dyads over time and across dyads can shed light on whether and how mothers and infants alter their dynamics over the course of an interaction to adapt to each others. One way to study these emergent differences in dynamics is to allow parameters that govern the patterns of interactions to change over time, and according to person- and dyad-specific characteristics. Using two estimation approaches to implement variations of a vector-autoregressive model with time-varying coefficients, we investigated the dynamics of automatically-tracked head movements in mothers and infants during the Face-Face/Still-Face Procedure (SFP) with 24 infant-mother dyads. The first approach requires specification of a confirmatory model for the time-varying parameters as part of a state-space model, whereas the second approach handles the time-varying parameters in a semi-parametric (“mostly” model-free) fashion within a generalized additive modeling framework. Results suggested that infant-mother head movement dynamics varied in time both within and across episodes of the SFP, and varied based on infants’ subsequently-assessed attachment security. Code for implementing the time-varying vector-autoregressive model using two R packages, dynr and mgcv, is provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-767
Number of pages29
JournalMultivariate Behavioral Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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