Do you see what I mean? Using mobile eye tracking to capture parent-child dynamics in the context of anxiety risk

Leigha A. MacNeill, Xiaoxue Fu, Kristin A. Buss, Koraly Pérez-Edgar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Temperamental behavioral inhibition (BI) is a robust endophenotype for anxiety characterized by increased sensitivity to novelty. Controlling parenting can reinforce children's wariness by rewarding signs of distress. Fine-grained, dynamic measures are needed to better understand both how children perceive their parent's behaviors and the mechanisms supporting evident relations between parenting and socioemotional functioning. The current study examined dyadic attractor patterns (average mean durations) with state space grids, using children's attention patterns (captured via mobile eye tracking) and parental behavior (positive reinforcement, teaching, directives, intrusion), as functions of child BI and parent anxiety. Forty 5- to 7-year-old children and their primary caregivers completed a set of challenging puzzles, during which the child wore a head-mounted eye tracker. Child BI was positively correlated with proportion of parent's time spent teaching. Child age was negatively related, and parent anxiety level was positively related, to parent-focused/controlling parenting attractor strength. There was a significant interaction between parent anxiety level and child age predicting parent-focused/controlling parenting attractor strength. This study is a first step to examining the co-occurrence of parenting behavior and child attention in the context of child BI and parental anxiety levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)997-1012
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 15 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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