Infants, mothers, and dyadic contributions to stability and prediction of social stress response at 6 months.Dev Psychol 2016; 52(1):1-8DP
The study of infants' interactive style and social stress response to repeated stress exposures is of great interest for developmental and clinical psychologists. Stable maternal and dyadic behavior is critical to sustain infants' development of an adaptive social stress response, but the association between infants' interactive style and social stress response has received scant attention in previous literature. In the present article, overtime stability of infant, maternal, and dyadic behaviors was measured across 2 social stress (i.e., Face-to-Face Still-Face, FFSF) exposures, separated by 15 days. Moreover, infant, maternal, and dyadic behaviors were simultaneously assessed as predictors of infants' social stress to both FFSF exposures. Eighty-one mother-infant dyads underwent the FFSF twice, at 6 months (Exposure 1: the first social stress) and at 6 months and 15 days (Exposure 2: repeated social stress). Infant and mother behavior and dyadic synchrony were microanalytically coded. Overall, individual behavioral stability emerged between FFSF exposures. Infants' response to the first stress was predicted by infant behavior during Exposure 1 Play. Infants' response to the repeated social stress was predicted by infants' response to the first exposure to the Still-Face and by infants' behavior and dyadic synchrony during Exposure 2 Play. Findings reveal stability for individual, but not for dyadic, behavior between 2 social stress exposures at 6 months. Infants' response to repeated social stress was predicted by infants' earlier stress response, infants' own behavior in play, and dyadic synchrony. No predictive effects of maternal behavior were found. Insights for research and clinical work are discussed.