Advances in Behavioral Remote Data Collection in the Home Setting: Assessing the Mother-Infant Relationship and Infant's Adaptive Behavior via Virtual Visits

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Psychological science is struggling with moving forward in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially due to the halting of behavioral data collection in the laboratory. Safety barriers to assessing psychological behavior in person increased the need for remote data collection in natural settings. In response to these challenges, researchers, including our team, have utilized this time to advance remote behavioral methodology. In this article, we provide an overview of our group’s strategies for remote data collection methodology and examples from our research in collecting behavioral data in the context of psychological functioning. Then, we describe the design and development of our strategies for remote data collection of mother-infant interactions, with the goal being to assess maternal sensitivity and intrusiveness, as well as infants’ adaptive behaviors in several developmental domains. During these virtual visits over Zoom, mother-infant dyads watched a book-reading video and were asked to participate in peek-a-boo, toy play, and toy removal tasks. After the behavioral tasks, a semi-structured interview (Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale – VABS III) was conducted to assess the infant’s adaptive behavior in communication, socialization, daily living skills, and motor domains. We delineate the specific strategies we applied to integrate laboratory tasks and a semi-structured interview into remote data collection in home settings with mothers and infants. We also elaborate on issues encountered during remote data collection and how we resolved these challenges. Lastly, to inform protocols for future remote data collection, we address considerations and recommendations, as well as benefits and future directions for behavioral researchers in developmental psychology research.

Social Sciences, Psychology, Multidisciplinary, Psychology, remote data collection, behavioral observation, home setting, infant adaptive behavior, mother-infant relationship, 1701 Psychology, 1702 Cognitive Sciences