Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Research Psychology (MS)




Jenny Vaydich

Second Reader

Bethany Hoff


Toddler attention, Joint attention, Toddler characteristics, Temperament, Self-Regulation, Attachment, Health Relationships



Individual differences have become increasingly relevant when addressing variability across child development. Literature bears evidence that these differences may impact a toddler’s ability to respond to Joint Attention (JA). JA refers to a communicative gaze and pointing between a child and another individual. JA has been recognized as being a critical milestone, to the formation and cultivation of shared awareness and attention of an event or object. JA is a skill that is critical to the development of future language acquisition (Vaughan Van Hecke et al., 2007). The aim of this study is to measure whether child characteristics, such as their temperament, ability to self-regulate and interpersonal relationships; have an impact on their ability to respond to JA cues. Children's temperaments are strongly correlated to their ability to maintain fixation on an object and to sustain focused attention (Papageorgiou et al., 2014). Other studies have demonstrated how a toddler’s ability to regulate their temperament, help them to better regulate their attention (Morrison et al., 2010). Salley (2016) was able to demonstrate that increased positive behaviors while engaged in play with caregivers; was associated with initiating JA (Salley et al., 2016). These studies help support the association between JA and child characteristics; little research has been done to understand if child characteristics impacts a toddler’s ability to respond to JA. To assess these domains of a toddler’s characteristics, I will use the Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire (ECBQ) to measure the toddlers Temperament (Putnam, 2006) and Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) to look collect subscales for attachment/relationships, initiative, and self-regulation (Ogg et al. 2010). The results of this project will help to add to the literature on individual differences in child characteristics and its subsequent impact on toddler responses to joint attention.