Antecedents of maternal sensitivity during distressing tasks: Integrating attachment, social information processing, and psychobiological perspectives

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susan D. Calkins, Professor (Creator)
Esther M. Leerkes, Professor (Creator)
Marion O'Brien, Professor, Director of Family Research Center and Associate Dean for Research (Creator)
Andrew "Andy" Supple, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Predictors of maternal sensitivity to infant distress were examined among 259 primiparous mothers. The Adult Attachment Interview, self-reports of personality and emotional functioning, and measures of physiological, emotional, and cognitive responses to videotapes of crying infants were administered prenatally. Maternal sensitivity was observed during three distress-eliciting tasks when infants were 6 months old. Coherence of mind was directly associated with higher maternal sensitivity to distress. Mothers' heightened emotional risk was indirectly associated with lower sensitivity via mothers' self-focused and negative processing of infant cry cues. Likewise, high physiological arousal accompanied by poor physiological regulation in response to infant crying was indirectly associated with lower maternal sensitivity to distress through mothers' self-focused and negative processing of infant cry cues.

Additional Information

Child Development, 86, 94-111
Language: English
Date: 2015
autonomic nervous system, adult attachment, maternal sensitivity, sympathetic arousal, parasympathetic regulation

Email this document to