Attachment linked predictors of women’s emotional and cognitive responses to infant distress

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 purpose of this study was to examine associations among women's emotional and cognitive responses to infant fear and anger and to identify attachment linked predictors of these responses. Four hundred and forty Caucasian and African American undergraduate college women viewed video clips of two crying infants, one displaying anger and the other displaying fear. They identified what the infants were feeling, made causal attributions about the cause of crying, rated their own emotional reactions to the crying infants, and reported on the extent to which their parents met their emotional needs in childhood and their current adult attachment patterns. Emotional and cognitive responses to infant fear and anger were interrelated. Consistent with prediction, a history of parental emotional rejection and adult attachment anxiety and avoidance correlated negatively with accurate identification of emotions and positively with negative attributions, amusement, and neutral responses to infant distress. Adult attachment security moderated the effects of early parental rejection on emotional and cognitive responses to infant distress, and these results varied based on race and parent gender. Results are discussed from an attachment theory perspective.

Additional Information

Attachment and Human Development, 8, 11- 32
Language: English
Date: 2006
Adult attachment, infant crying, attributions, emotional response

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