Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Diane Lickenbrock (Director), Kelly Madole, and Andrew Mienaltowski

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


The ability to self-regulate allows infants to stay at a baseline level during periods of stress (Porges, 1995). Baseline respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) may be used as an indicator of self-regulation and how well an individual can respond to changes in the environment (Stifter & Corey, 2001). Differences in infant temperament can influence a child’s ability to self-regulate (Dale et al., 2011), but moderators of this relationship have not been thoroughly examined in the literature. Parents who are more involved might have more opportunities to teach children important regulatory strategies (Blandon et al., 2010). The current study examined the association between parental involvement, infant temperament, and infant baseline RSA with mothers and fathers. Infant temperament and parental involvement were measured via parent-report when infants were 4 months old, and baseline RSA was measured at 8 months of age. Multiple regression analyses were used to test whether parental involvement acted as a moderator and whether there were differences between mother-infant and father-infant dyads.

Findings revealed differences in mother versus father predictors of infant baseline RSA. For mothers, a significant Infant Surgency X Maternal Play interaction was revealed; such that infants of mothers who were low involvement increased in their baseline RSA as their surgency increased. For fathers, a significant main effect of father care was found such that infants with highly involved fathers had higher baseline RSA. In conclusion, parents may influence their child’s ability to self-regulate based on their level of involvement. Findings have important implications for parenting interventions.


Biological Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Physiology | Sociology