Ponca City native seeks help of hometown

Ponca City Now - October 10, 2014 7:35 am

An Oklahoma State University graduate student is asking for her hometown’s help. Evan Jordan grew up in Ponca City and is now studying Positive Emotion Contagion among infants. Jordan said this study will help determine early onset of Autism, and serve as a building block for empathy later in life.

“Negative emotional contagion has been looked at in the form of contagious crying for many years over the last two decades, but no one has actually looked at positive emotional contagion, the ability to catch the smiles or the laughter of another infant," Jordan said. "We’re really taking basically the paradigms that these negative emotional contagion studies have looked at with contagious crying. and we’re doing the exact same thing only we’re including laughter instead of crying.”

The part Jordan needs help with is finding babies to study. They are looking for at least 45 babies between now and July.

“We assess them at five months, and then again at 10 months of age," Jordan said. "We chose five months, because infants won’t begin to laugh until about four months of age, prior to that you’ll hear some form of laughter but it’s a reflex. So, about four months of age they are socially laughing in response to some ones behavior. Then we assess them at 10 months of age after they start to crawl, due to the fact that once you’re locomotive, once your moving around your perceptions began to change and your emotional reactions also begin to change. Really we’re looking at it, and we’re trying to establish that the positive emotions can occur in the same way as negative emotions.”

The baby does have to be present at both five and 10 months to participate. Jordan said it’s rare that a child at these ages is diagnosed with autism, those diagnosis don’t typically come until they are two or three. So, that’s what this study is trying to change.

“We look at it, and then this has implications for early detection of autism because infants with autism will respond less frequently with emotional reactions, they smile less frequently, they laugh less frequently,” Jordan said.

She said they will display negative emotions less frequently too, but the lack of positive emotion is more noticeable.

If your infant is a healthy, full-term baby that is younger than five months, and you want to help Jordan out you can contact her at [email protected]. Participation does require you travel to Stillwater, but they will reimburse your travel expenses. At the first appointment you will get a $5 check. Then at the 10 month appointment you will get another $5 check and a $25 Valero card.


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