Article Correctness Is Author's Responsibility: Associations between maternal physiology and maternal sensitivity vary depending on infant distress and emotion context.

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Individual differences in maternal sensitivity to infant distress were examined by testing whether mothers' physiological responses interacted to predict sensitivity differently in a fear task relative to an anger task, and based on the level of distress displayed by the infant. Mothers' (N = 208) physiological arousal (skin conductance level [SCL] arousal) and physiological regulation (respiratory sinus arrhythmia [RSA] withdrawal/augmentation) were measured during a baseline task and while interacting with their 1-year-old infants during tasks that elicited infant fear and infant anger. Infant negative affect and maternal sensitivity were assessed during these interactions, and mothers later reported on their perceptions of infant distress during the tasks. Results indicated that the mother SCL arousal × RSA change interaction predicted sensitivity only with infants who displayed higher distress, and in a different pattern across tasks. In the fear task, for mothers of infants displaying higher distress, SCL arousal related to greater sensitivity only for mothers who displayed RSA withdrawal. In the anger task, for mothers of infants displaying higher distress, SCL arousal related to greater sensitivity only for mothers who displayed RSA augmentation. Further, although infants displayed similar levels of distress in each task, maternal SCL arousal, sensitivity, and perceptions of distress differed across tasks. These results suggest that contextual cues and infant distress cues both contribute to associations between mothers' physiological responses and maternal sensitivity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)