Consortium on Individual Development


CID researcher Sanne Geeraerts at Penn State University

Can we predict which infants will be good in self-regulation, and which will perform more poorly later in development? To answer this question, CID PhD candidate Sanne Geeraerts studies early precursors of self-regulation in infancy and toddlerhood. She received a Fulbright grant to visit prof. Cynthia Stifter at Penn State University, USA.

During her visit from September to December 2017, Sanne and prof. Stifter focused on crying and fussing patterns in infancy, and how these may predict self-regulation in early childhood. ‘Based on the idea that there is an optimal arousal level for the development of self-regulation, we expected that arousal may bolster the development of self-regulation, but only if it does not reach a certain threshold’.

Detailed diary

To test this hypothesis, Sanne worked with longitudinal data on approximately 150 children and their parents, collected by the researchers at Penn State University. Parents reported on their infants’ emotional state using a detailed diary. The information obtained from these diaries is used by Sanne and prof. Stifter to predict how well infants can regulate themselves later in development, and whether parenting may play a role in this prospective relation.

Collaborate in the future

Overall, the research visit has led to both a manuscript in preparation and a submitted symposium about the predictive value of crying and fussing patterns in infancy, but also the intention to collaborate in the future. “The visit to Penn State has been a great experience, which allowed me to have regular face-to-face meetings with a leading expert in my field, follow an exciting new course about intensive longitudinal data analysis, and experience the American (academic) culture.”

Truly inspirational

“I can definitely recommend other PhD candidates to plan a visit abroad, as it is has been a truly inspirational experience.” A variety of grants are available to support PhD’s in going abroad. Next to the Fulbright grant, Prins Bernhard cultuurfonds, Jo Kolk (only for women), and ‘Kind and Adolescent op reis’ are some funding options to consider.