Publication Details

Jones, R., Slade, P., Pascalis, O. & Herbert, J. S. (2013). Infant interest in their mother's face is associated with maternal psychological health. Infant Behavior and Development, 36 (4), 686-693.


Early experience can alter infants' interest in faces in their environment. This study investigated the relationship between maternal psychological health, mother-infant bonding, and infant face interest in a community sample. A visual habituation paradigm was used to independently assess 3.5-month old infants' attention to a photograph of their mother's face and a stranger's face. In this sample of 54 healthy mother-infant pairs, 57% of mothers (N=31) reported symptoms of at least one of stress response to trauma, anxiety, or depression. Interest in the mother-face, but not stranger-face, was positively associated with the mother's psychological health. In regression analyses, anxiety and depression predicted 9% of the variance in looking to the mother-face. Anxiety was the only significant predictor within the model. No direct associations were found between mother-infant bonding and infants' face interest. Taken together, these findings indicate that infant's visual engagement with their mother's face varies with maternal symptoms of emotional distress, even within a community sample.



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