Parental embodied mentalizing: Let's be explicit about what we mean by implicit

Dana Shai, Jay Belsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parental embodied mentalizing (PEM)-defined as the "parental capacity to (a) implicitly conceive, comprehend, and extrapolate the infant's mental states (such as wishes, desires, or preferences) from the infant's whole-body kinesthetic expressions and (b) adjust one's own kinesthetic patterns accordingly"-represents the first known attempt to conceptualize parental mentalizing in a theoretical and empirical framework that moves beyond parents' verbal and declarative capacities toward the infant's realm of experience: that of quality of movement, rhythms, space, time, sensations, and touch. This response article discusses the implicit nature of PEM in light of emerging neuroscientific evidence showing that independent mechanisms subserve implicit and explicit mentalizing. It argues that the development of children's sense of ownership and agency at the embodied level necessitates the interpersonal encounter, mediated by parental embodied mentalizing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-188
Number of pages2
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Body
  • Mentalizing
  • Nonverbal
  • Parent-infant interaction
  • Parental embodied mentalizing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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