Infant sensitivity to negative maternal emotional shifts: Effects of infant sex, maternal postnatal depression, and interactive style
Hatzinikolaou, K. and Murray, L. (2010) Infant sensitivity to negative maternal emotional shifts: Effects of infant sex, maternal postnatal depression, and interactive style. Infant Mental Health Journal, 31 (5). pp. 591-610. ISSN 0163-9641
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/imhj.20265
This study examined the effects of infant sex, maternal postnatal depression, and maternal interactive style on infant sensitivity to maternal negative emotional shifts. Face-to-face interactions of 68 mother–infant dyads were analyzed at 8 and 18 weeks. Twenty-five (28%) mothers had postnatal depression. Interactions were analyzed in terms of overall maternal interactive style: “sensitive,” “anxious,” “intrusive,” and “sad.” Episodes of negative shifts in maternal emotional expression were recorded, along with expressions of infant sensitivity to these changes. Daughters of depressed mothers showed higher rates of sensitivity to maternal negative emotion whereas their sons showed lower rates, in comparison to both girl and boy infants of well mothers. While maternal interactive style had no effect on 8-week infant sensitivity to maternal negative emotional shifts, high rates of 18-week infant sensitivity were predicted by both an 8-week and a concurrent, “sad” maternal interactive style. The findings are discussed in relation to theories of emotional and interpersonal development.