Lewis Leavitt, M.D.
M.D., University of Chicago
Medical Director, MCH LEND
Waisman Center, Room 547
1500 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
Web: Mother-Infant Interaction Laboratory
Dr. Lewis Leavitt, professor of pediatrics, University of Wisconsin and researcher on infant development and parent-infant interaction, studies how both infant and parent contribute to the construction of their relationship, which can be called a bond or attachment. This relationship helps foster early infant development.
While interacting, both mother and infant emit signals to capture each other's attention and to indicate whether to join, sustain, or terminate their interaction. Maternal sensitivity to these signals is a central feature in the development of optimal or secure attachment. A mother's perceptions and expectations of her infant's behavior affects her sensitivity to infant signals. Because of the effect of these parental perceptions, modifying the parent's cognitive sets and coping strategies to help them better deal with the challenge of responding to infant distress can be beneficial.
Donovan, W. L., Leavitt, L. A., & Taylor, N. L. (2005) Maternal Self-Efficacy and Experimentally Manipulated Infant Difficulty Effects on Maternal Sensory Sensitivity: A Signal Detection Analysis. Developmental Psychology.
Leavitt LA. When terrible things happen: a parent's guide to talking with their children. J Pediatr Health Care. 2002 Sep-Oct;16(5):272-4.
Stein BD, Zima BT, Elliott MN, Burnam MA, Shahinfar A, Fox NA, Leavitt LA. Violence exposure among school-age children in foster care: relationship to distress symptoms. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2001 May;40(5):588-94.
Donovan WL, Leavitt LA, Walsh RO. Maternal illusory control predicts socialization strategies and toddler compliance. Dev Psychol. 2000 May;36(3):402-11.
Shahinfar A, Fox NA, Leavitt LA. Preschool children's exposure to violence: relation of behavior problems to parent and child reports. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2000 Jan;70(1):115-25.