Approach avoidance responses to infant facial expressions in nulliparous women: Associations with early experience and mood induction

P. De Carli, M.M.E. Riem*, L. Parolin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Infant expressions are important signals for eliciting caregiving behaviors in parents. The present study sought to test if infant expressions affect adults’ behavioral response, taking into account the role of a mood induction and childhood caregiving experiences. A modified version of the Approach Avoidance Task (AAT) was employed to study nulliparous female university students’ implicit responses to infant faces with different expressions. Study 1 showed that sad, neutral and sleepy expressions elicit a tendency for avoidance, while no tendency for approach or avoidance was found for happy faces. Notably, differences between approach and avoidance response latencies for sad faces and participants’ negative caregiving experiences were positively correlated (r = 0.30, p = 0.04, Bonferroni corrected), indicating that individuals who experienced insensitive parental care show more bias toward sad infant faces. In Study 2, we manipulated participants' current mood (inducing sad and happy mood by asking to recall a happy or sad event of their recent life) before the AAT. Results showed that sad mood enhanced the bias toward sad faces that is buffered by positive mood induction. In conclusion, these findings indicate that implicit approach avoidance behaviors in females depend on the emotional expression of infant faces and are associated with childhood caregiving experiences and current mood.
Keywords: Approach avoidance, Infant emotions, Negative caregiving experiences, Mood manipulation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-113
JournalInfant Behavior and Development: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume49
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Approach avoidance responses to infant facial expressions in nulliparous women: Associations with early experience and mood induction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this