The effects of social fear, maternal warmth, and biological sex on the development of social withdrawal in middle childhood

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ashley R. Brown (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Susan P. Keane

Abstract: Research has demonstrated a relation between the social fear aspect of temperament and the development of behavioral withdrawal. However, discontinuity in this pathway exists, indicating that different factors must influence the extent of the effect of this relationship. Maternal behaviors such as warmth and positivity may buffer against the risk of becoming socially withdrawn in middle childhood, and sex may affect the way a caregiver responds to a child when distressed, through differing processes of emotion socialization. The primary goal of the proposed study was to investigate the influence of social fear, maternal warmth, and the sex of the child on the development of childhood behavioral withdrawal. The proposed study examined the effects of social fear at age 2 on behavioral withdrawal at age 7, and specifically assessed the moderating effect of maternal warmth and positivity at age 4 and the sex of the child on this relation. Mother report of social fear, teacher report of withdrawal, and observed maternal warmth during mother-child interaction tasks were utilized in this study. A significant three-way interaction between sex, fear, and warmth was found, upon probing, the interaction was only significant for boys. Further, among boys, the interaction was not significant at low levels of maternal warmth, but achieved trend level significance at high levels of maternal warmth. The implications of these results for the understanding of how behavioral withdrawal develops are discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Child development, Maternal Warmth, Parenting, Social Fear, Social Withdrawal
Child development
Mother and child
Emotions in children
Social interaction in children

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