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Child Abuse Negl. 2008 Jul;32(7):702-10. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.11.002. Epub 2008 Jul 7.

Parental responses to infant crying: the influence of child physical abuse risk and hostile priming.

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  • 1Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Managing a crying infant is a challenge universally faced by new parents. This study examined whether parental interpretations, feelings, and behaviors following exposure to a 2-minute videotaped segment of a crying infant varied as a function of child physical abuse (CPA) risk and exposure to cues of hostility (i.e., hostile priming).

METHOD:

Participants included 84 general population parents (52 low and 32 high CPA risk) with valid and complete protocols. It was predicted that (1) negative trait ratings, (2) feelings of hostility, and (3) ability to modulate grip strength would differ across CPA risk groups (high vs. low) and priming conditions (hostile vs. neutral).

RESULTS:

As expected, high, compared to low, CPA risk parents rated the crying infant more negatively and reported higher levels of hostile feelings after watching the crying infant video. Hostile priming independently increased feelings of hostility, such that high CPA risk parents who were primed with hostile words reported higher levels of hostile feelings relative to all other conditions. Hostile priming also was modestly associated with increased use of excessive force when parents attempted to produce a half-strength grip; however this difference was apparent only among high CPA risk parents.

CONCLUSIONS:

High, compared to low, CPA risk parents rated the crying infant more negatively and reported higher levels of hostile feelings after watching the crying infant video. Hostile priming independently increased hostile feelings and was modestly associated with use of excessive force in the hand grip task among high CPA risk parents.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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