Publication Date

Summer 2015

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Diane M. Lickenbrock (Director), Carl L. Myers, and Elizabeth A. Lemerise

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Specialist in Education


A sensitive parent-child relationship is essential in ensuring the healthy mental and physical development of an individual. Parental sensitivity can be affected by parent characteristics, such parental competence and resources as well as child characteristics, such as negative reactivity. The combination of how these parent and infant factors predict parental sensitivity has not been examined with both mothers and fathers. The current study involved 30, 4-month old infants and their mothers and fathers. Parents completed questionnaires measuring infant temperament and parental competence. They also participated in a demographic interview to measure family resources, as well as a dyadic parent-infant face-to-face play task to measure parental sensitivity. Results involving mothers indicated a moderating effect of infant temperament (e.g., negative reactivity) on the associations between parental competence (e.g., self-efficacy) and parental sensitivity. Whereas for fathers, results indicated significant main effects of infant temperament (e.g., orienting) and parental competence (e.g., self-efficacy) on parental sensitivity. The current study gives evidence and support that it is a combination of both parent characteristics and infant characteristics that affects parental sensitivity. However, this combination of characteristics is different for mothers and fathers, indicating that different factors play a part in parenting behaviors for mothers and fathers.


Education | Psychology