Contributions of maternal and infant factors to infant responding to the Still Face paradigm: A longitudinal study

Melanie Gunning, Sarah L. Halligan, Lynne Murray

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30 Citations (SciVal)


Early mother-infant interactions are characterised by periods of synchronous interaction that are interrupted by periods of mismatch; the experience of such mismatches and their subsequent repair is held to facilitate the development of infant self-regulatory capacities (Tronick, Als, Adamson, Wise, & Brazelton, 1978). Infant responding to such interactive challenge is assumed to be a function of both maternal behaviour and pre-existing infant characteristics. However, the latter has received relatively little attention. In a prospective longitudinal study of a sample comprising high and low adversity dyads (n= 122), we examined the contributions of both maternal sensitivity and neonatal irritability to infant behavioural and physiological responding to the interactive challenge of the Still Face paradigm. Results indicated that higher levels of maternal sensitivity were associated with more regulated infant behaviour during the Still Face paradigm. Neonatal irritability also predicted poorer behavioural and heart rate recovery following the Still Face challenge. Furthermore, there was an interaction such that irritable infants with insensitive mothers showed the worst behavioural outcomes. The findings highlight the importance of the interplay between maternal and infant characteristics in determining dyadic responding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-328
Number of pages10
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013


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