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Infant Ment Health J. 2017 Jul;38(4):451-460. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21651. Epub 2017 Jun 30.

RECOGNIZING INFANTS' EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS: ARE ADOLESCENTS LESS SENSITIVE TO INFANTS' CUES?

Author information

1
University Hospital RWTH Aachen, Germany.
2
University Hospital RWTH Aachen, Germany and JARA-Brain Institute (JBI-II), Research Center Juelich, Germany.

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that adolescent mothers interact less sensitively with their infants than do adult mothers. This difference might be due to developmental difficulties in the recognition of infants' emotional states in adolescents. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to explore differences in the recognition of infant signals between nonparous adolescent girls and boys as compared to female and male adults. To this end, we examined 54 childless adolescents and 54 childless adults (50% female). Participants were shown a series of 20 short videos of infants aged 3 to 6 months presenting different emotional states ranging from very distressed to very happy. In addition, participants were asked to report their own parental experiences using the German version, Fragebogen zum erinnerten elterlichen Erziehungsverhalten (J. Schumacher, M. Eisemann, & E. Brähler, ), of the Egna Minnen Befräffande Uppfostran (Own Memories of Parental Rearing Experiences in Childhood; C. Perris, L. Jacobsson, H. Lindstrom, L. von Knorring, & H. Perris, ). Adolescents rated distressed infants as more distressed than did the adults. Furthermore, female participants rated the very distressed infants as more distressed than did male participants. These data suggest that adolescents, in general, are not impaired in recognizing infant emotional states, as compared to adults. Thus, we suggest that more extreme ratings of infant signals of discomfort together with immature sociocognitive regulation processes during adolescence might contribute to reduced sensitivity observed in adolescent mothers.

KEYWORDS:

Altersunterschiede in der Emotionserkennung von Säuglingen; Geschlechtsunterschiede in der Emotionserkennung von Säuglingen; Signale von Säuglingen; adolescent mothers; age differences in infant emotion recognition; diferencias de edad en el reconocimiento de la emoción del infante; diferencias de género en el reconocimiento de la emoción del infante; différences d’âge dans la reconnaissance de l’émotion du bébé; différences entre les sexes dans la reconnaissance de l’émotion du bébé; gender differences in infant emotion recognition; infant signals; jugendliche Mütter; madres adolescentes, sensibilidad materna; maternal sensitivity; mères adolescentes; mütterliche Sensitivität; sensibilité maternelle; señales de los infantes; signaux du bébé; 乳児の信号; 乳児の情緒認識における年齢差; 乳児の情緒認識における性差; 嬰兒信號; 嬰兒情感認知中的性別差異; 嬰兒情感認知的年齡差異; 思春期の母親; 母親の感受性; 母親敏感度; 青春期母親

PMID:
28665553
DOI:
10.1002/imhj.21651
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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