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Provenzi, Livio; Scotto di Minico, Giunia; Giusti, Lorenzo; Guida, Elena; Müller, Mitho (2018): Disentangling the Dyadic Dance: Theoretical, Methodological and Outcomes Systematic Review of Mother-Infant Dyadic Processes. In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 9, 348
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Abstract

Background : During the last decades, the research on mother-infant dyad has produced a great amount of data, methods and theories, which largely contributed to set a revolution in the way we look at developmental changes during infancy and childhood. Very different constructs depict the different aspects of the "dyadic dance" occurring between a mother and her infant;nonetheless, a comprehensive and consistent systematization of these concepts in a coherent theoretical landscape is still lacking. Aim : In the present work, we aim at disentangling the different theoretical and methodological definitions of 9 dyadic constructs and we highlight their effects on infants' and children developmental outcomes Methods : A literature search has been conducted on three databases-PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science. Three different reviews are reported here: (1) a review on the theoretical definitions of dyadic constructs;(2) a review of operational definitions, settings and methods of dyadic processes;(3) a systematic review of dyadic processes' outcomes for infants' and children developmental trajectories. Results : Two constructs emerged as wide meta-theoretical concepts (reciprocity and mutuality) and seven described specific processes (attunement, contingency, coordination, matching, mirroring, reparation, synchrony). A global model resuming the relationships among different processes is reported, which highlights the emergence of two specific cycles of dyadic functioning (i.e., matching-mismatching-reparation-synchrony;contingency, coordination, attunement, mirroring). A comprehensive review of the adopted measures is also provided. Finally, all the processes provided significant contributions to infants' behavioral, cognitive, and socio-emotional development during the first 3 years of age, but limited research has been conducted on specific processes(e.g. reparation and mirroring). Conclusion : The present study provides an original research-grounded framework to consider the different nature of mother-infant dyadic processes within a unified dyadic eco-system. Different levels of evidence emerged for the role of diverse mother-infant dyadic processes on infants' and children development. Open questions and future research directions are highlighted.