Maternal sensitivity and infant emotional reactivity: Concurrent and longitudinal relations

Tracy Spinrad, Cynthia A. Stifter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although the construct of infant reactivity is thought to be a temperamental dimension, investigators have been interested in the relation between emotional reactivity and maternal behaviors. In this study, infants' emotional reactivity to frustrating stimuli and maternal sensitivity and intrusiveness were observed at 5 and 10 months of age. Cluster analysis of infants' emotional expressions revealed three patterns of expressive behavior emerged at both ages: (1) frequent anger and negative (distress) expressions, (2) intense anger expressions, and (3) frequent happy expressions. Results demonstrated that patterns of emotional reactivity at 5 and 10 months differed by maternal interactive style. In addition, patterns of emotional reactivity at 10 months of age could be predicted by differences in maternal caregiving, and conversely, 5-month infant reactivity was predictive of 10-month maternal behavior. Conclusions are made regarding ways that mothers socialize emotions and the bi-directional nature of mother-infant interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-263
Number of pages21
JournalMarriage and Family Review
Volume34
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

Keywords

  • Emotional reactivity
  • Infant temperament
  • Maternal sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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