Publication Date

Spring 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Diane Lickenbrock (Director), Dr. Andrew Mienaltowski, and Dr. Jennifer Teeters

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Parents play a significant role in infant emotional development; specifically, infant affect regulation (Taipale, 2016). Various sources of stress might influence how parents interact with their infants as well as infant regulation. Parental psychopathology (depression, anxiety) has been associated with increases in infant negative affect (Forbes et al., 2004; Reck et al., 2018). Parental resources, another source of stress, is associated with parenting during parent-infant interactions and subsequent infant socioemotional outcomes (Lickenbrock & Braungart-Rieker, 2015; Lin & Seo, 2017). Research examining these sources of stress in the parent-infant relationship with mothers and fathers and subsequent infant affect regulation is limited. In addition, paternal psychopathology and infant affect regulation with fathers has not been extensively examined (Braungart-Rieker et al., 1998; Graham et al., 2018). The current study addressed this gap in the literature by examining whether parental psychopathology and parental resources were associated with infant affect regulation with mothers and fathers.

Participants included mothers, fathers, and infants at 4- and 8- months of age from a larger, longitudinal study (n = 98) examining infant social and emotional development. Parents completed an interview assessing their age, education level, occupation, and family income (parental resources). Parents also completed the Inventory of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms to measure general depression and social anxiety symptoms (Watson et al., 2007). Parents and infants participated in a face-to-face play task at each time-point (Still-Face Paradigm; Tronick et al., 1978) with parent order counterbalanced. Infant affect was rated by trained, reliable coders during the SFP using an established coding scheme (Braungart-Rieker et al., 2014).

Findings revealed that parental resources did not moderate the association between parent psychopathology symptoms at 4-months and infant negative affect at 8- months with mothers and fathers. Results revealed a significant positive association between parental resources and infant negative affect with mothers; increased parental resources was associated with increased infant negative affect. Exploratory findings revealed significant positive associations between mother age and infant negative affect as well as mother/father education and infant negative affect. In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of examining various sources of stress in parents in association with infant emotional development.


Child Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Psychology

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