Antecedents of mothers' emotional and cognitive responses to infant distress: The role of family, mother, and infant characteristics

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Esther M. Leerkes, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The antecedents of mothers' emotional and cognitive responses to infant distress were examined. Participants were 67 mothers and their infants. Mothers completed questionnaires assessing their experiences in the family of origin and current marital relationships both pre- and postnatally and their coping strategies prenatally. Infant temperament was observed at 6 months, and mothers were interviewed about their emotional and cognitive responses to infant distress 2 years later to assess their emotional competencies (i.e., accurate identification of negative emotions, emotion efficacy, emotional responses to infant distress, and emotion goals). A childhood history of emotional rejection was negatively associated with empathy and efficacy and positively associated with negative emotions. The association between childhood history and some emotional competencies was moderated by current marital dysfunction, engaged coping, and positive intervening relationships. Maternal marital styles and coping strategies and infant temperament correlated with emotional competencies. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed from an attachment theory perspective.

Additional Information

Infant Mental Health Journal, 27, 405-428
Language: English
Date: 2006
infant distress, maternal response to infant distress, marital relationships, infant temperament, maternal efficacy

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