The Association Between Maternal Responsiveness and Child Social and Emotional Development
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Introduction. A mother’s verbal and non-verbal behaviour towards her infant is known as maternal responsiveness (MR). Positive MR is associated with better child social and emotional development (SED). A mother’s ability to accurately recognise emotions is thought to enhance MR. Method. Data from 1,122 mother-infant interactions from a longitudinal birth cohort study, was used firstly to examine whether positive MR at 12 months was associated with better child and adolescent SED, and secondly to explore whether better maternal facial and vocal expression recognition at 151 months was associated with positive MR and child SED. MR was measured using the Thorpe Interaction Measure (TIM) from observed mother-infant interactions and SED from questionnaire data adjusting for potential confounding variables. A test of facial expression recognition was used with vocal expression recognition additionally used in mothers. Results. Logistic regression revealed that positive MR was associated with positive SED outcomes in childhood but there was little effect in adolescence. Positive MR was associated with mothers having better facial and vocal expression recognition at 151 months and these recognition skills were associated with children showing less emotional problems at 158 months independent of MR. Adjustments for confounding variables had no effect on these results. Conclusion: These findings support the benefit of positive MR on a child’s SED in middle childhood. Further, the findings suggest that a mother’s facial and vocal expression recognition skills are important to both MR and a child’s SED. Limitations include subjective reporting of SED.
Doctor of Clinical Psychology