Kelly E. Jedd

Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Fall 5-11-2011

Major Department or Program



Melissa Clearfield


The development of visual attention is a key component of knowledge acquisition and cognitive functioning in infancy and throughout childhood. By the time children in poverty reach school-age, deficits in attention are readily apparent; however, the onset of attention delays is unknown. The current study tested attention longitudinally at 6, 9, and 12 months in a sample of 27 infants from high and low-SES families, using a free play attention task with two conditions: one toy and six toys. The dependent measures were attention to toys, attention to faces, quiet inattention, and total inattention. High-SES infants showed greater increases in attention when the stimuli were more complex. Additionally, low-SES infants showed higher total inattention than their high-SES peers at all ages. The results show that by six months, infants in poverty already show deficits in attention. Early identification of attention delays may enable earlier and more effective interventions.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Socioeconomic status -- Family socioeconomic level -- Lower class, Socioeconomic status -- Family socioeconomic level -- Upper class, Infants -- Development -- Cognitive skills, Attention -- Infancy and childhood, Cognitive psychology, Poverty -- Family, Play assessment (Child psychology), Toy -- Juvenile, Social sciences, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2011 -- Psychology Department

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Document Type

Whitman Community Accessible Thesis

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