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The Influences of Maternal Behaviors on Infant Vocal Reactivity and Soothability: Maternal Positive Affect, Sensitivity, and Stimulation as Predictive Elements

The current project was inspired by and conducted under The Care Project, which explores the effects of maternal depression on the developing fetus. The goals of the current study are to 1) identify in what ways maternal positive and negative affect may be predictive of infant behavior, specifically vocal reactivity and soothability; and to 2) analyze whether maternal sensitivity and maternal stimulation of development are associated with infant vocal reactivity and soothability. I ran my analyses on 69 mother-infant dyads. Data was collected from self-report questionnaires completed by the mother at the 6-month infant laboratory visit. Additionally, we coded videos we had recorded of the mother and her infant interacting during the 6-month infant visit. The results demonstrated a positive correlation between infant vocal reactivity and maternal positive affect. There was no significant correlation between maternal sensitivity/stimulation and infant vocal reactivity/soothability. This suggests that a mother’s expression of positive emotion may stimulate an infant’s vocal behavior.

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