Infant Distress and Regulatory Behaviors Vary as a Function of Attachment Security Regardless of Emotion Context and Maternal Involvement

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: Differences in infant distress and regulatory behaviors based on the quality of attachment to mother, emotion context (frustration versus fear), and whether or not mothers were actively involved in the emotion-eliciting tasks were examined in a sample of ninety-eight 16-month-old infants and their mothers. Dyads participated in the Strange Situation, a limiting task designed to elicit infant frustration, and a novelty task designed to elicit infant fear. Mothers were asked to remain uninvolved during the first minute of each task and then instructed to engage with their infants as they wished for the remaining 3 min. Independent of concurrent maternal sensitivity, resistant infants were significantly more distressed than secure and avoidant infants. Avoidant infants engaged in fewer active mother-oriented regulation behaviors than secure and resistant infants and engaged in more self-soothing in the mother-involved condition than the mother-uninvolved condition. Resistant infants engaged in more physical comfort with their mothers and more venting than both secure and avoidant infants and exhibited a smaller variety of adaptive non-mother-oriented strategies than did secure infants. There were few differences in infant distress and regulatory behaviors as a function of emotion task and maternal involvement. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.

Additional Information

Infancy, 17(5), 455-478
Language: English
Date: 2012
Child Psychology, Infants, Mothers, Behavior, Attachment, Maternal Sensitivity

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