About Claire Vallotton’s Research

Observation booth at the MSU Child Development Labs

My general research interests are the early development and integration of cognitive-linguistic and social-emotional skills within the context of caregiver-child relationships and family risks. There are a number of themes that run through my research. These themes are described below. To learn more about specific research projects, follow the links to the Research Projects in the Insight Into Infants’ Internal Worlds (IIIW) Lab.

Infant Signs: A Window into Preverbal Minds. One way that I study the integration of symbol and social skills is by studying the development and effects of infants’ use of symbolic gestures – also known as infant signs. I use  infant signing as a method to gain insight into infants’ social and cognitive worlds and the nature of the preverbal mind, and the effects of early symbol skills on later development.

Child Effects. I am also interested in the effects of children’s characteristics and development on their adult caregivers. One way that I look at this issue is to examine the effects of infants’ use of gestures on adults’ responses to them. One important limitation to Child Effects research is that it is very challenging to tease apart the effects of parents and children on one another. A approach that I take to get around this limitation is to examine the effects of child characteristics on their relationships with caregivers and teachers.

Research <-> Practice. I have an active interest in translational research to improve the quality of training for the early child care and education workforce and providing parents with effective tools support their children’s development of social-emotional and communication skills. To this end, I work with University- and Community-based programs that serve children and families to help design developmentally appropriate curricula and measure program effects on children and families.

International and Cross-Cultural Research. I am interested in the universal and culturally-influenced aspects of early social and cognitive development. To investigate these questions, I partner with a number of researchers from around the world who are each studying symbolic gestures in infants and their families. To learn more about this group of scholars, follow the links to the International Infant Sign Researchers (IISR).

Dr. Vallotton can be reached at the following:

Email: vallotto@msu.edu
Phone: (517) 884-0521
2G Human Ecology
552 West Circle Drive
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824