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Dev Psychol. 2010 Jul;46(4):791-804. doi: 10.1037/a0019673.

Fear and anger reactivity trajectories from 4 to 16 months: the roles of temperament, regulation, and maternal sensitivity.

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Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.


Two goals guided this study: (a) describe changes in infant fear and anger reactivity from 4 to 16 months and (b) examine the degree to which infant temperament, attentional regulation, and maternal sensitivity predict reactivity trajectories. Participants included 143 mothers and infants (57% male) who visited the laboratory at 4, 8, 12, and 16 months. Infant reactivity, regulation, and maternal sensitivity were assessed from laboratory situations; infant temperament was rated by mothers on the Infant Behavior Questionnaire (Rothbart, 1981). Hierarchical linear modeling indicated that overall, fear and anger reactivity increased with age, but the rate of increase for fear slowed over time. Maternal ratings of temperamental fear and anger each predicted laboratory ratings of fear and anger reactivity, respectively. Moreover, infants who showed less regulation showed greater fear reactivity and steeper increases in anger reactivity over time. Infants whose mothers were more sensitive showed slower increases in fear reactivity. Findings from this study suggest that it is important to consider both intrinsic and extrinsic factors to gain a better understanding of the processes that may be involved in the development of emotional reactivity systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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