Physiological and behavioural Aspects of Mother - Infant Attachment and emotional Availability: a Study on five Months old Babies

Rostagno, Maria (2015) Physiological and behavioural Aspects of Mother - Infant Attachment and emotional Availability: a Study on five Months old Babies. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF (Rostagno PhD Dissertation) - Doctoral Thesis


Mother-infant bond is essential for the infant survival both physically and emotionally; in fact the attachment between mother and infant is a complex system of behaviours and feelings toward the one to the other that builds a relationship between both. This relationship motivates mothers and infants to undertake behaviours that ensure the infant’s survival, and it is on the base of all mammalian affiliations (Bowlby, 1969). Mothers and infants are equipped with instinctive attachment behaviours that ensure maternal care and the wellbeing, protection and survival of infants. This behavioural system underlies the affiliative system that develops in adulthood and subsequently parental behaviour (Panksepp, 1994). The development of the type of the attachment bond depends on how the mother was receptive to the needs of the child by providing the necessary care. Negayama et al. (2009), have shown that the picking up of the baby is essential for its development because its allows the caregiver to transport him/her, to protect him/her and to love him/her. In relation to this the purpose of this study is to investigate the physiological and behavioural responses of the child during the stimulation provided by the maternal carrying. In our previous study (Esposito et al. 2013) we found that during maternal carrying infants were calmer than during maternal holding (infant held by the mother while sitting). Each situation lasted 20s. Now we are interest in how both infants and mothers react during a longer stimulation of carrying and holding. Furthermore we are interest in mothers and infants quality of communication and connection between the parent and child. We want to deepen this by using the Emotional Availability Scale (EAs) (Biringhen, 1987) which is a research-based, scientifically driven way of understanding the quality of the interaction between the parent and the child. In this study also we aim to have behaviourally and physiologically measures of the EAs. Babies reduce the amount of voluntary movements, the episodes of crying and the heart rate during carrying. For what concern mother’s the heart rate during free interaction there isn’t any correlation between the heart rate of the baby and the mother’s heart rate. What we found is that mothers do not get influenced about their own attachment to their parents for what concern their relationship with their baby. Furthermore the Emotional Availability (EA) is negatively correlated to personality domains of the mother (psychoticism and neuroticism). Infants tend to adapt themselves and to cooperate with the mother during carrying. The calming response highlighted by the carrying has an adaptive value in mother-infant relationship and, as a consequence, in infant survival. Moreover, the present study provides implications for general parenting practices: how to interact optimally with the infant and the calming effect could be use in different situations.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Cognitive and Brain Sciences
PhD Cycle:27
Subjects:Area 11 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche > M-PSI/04 PSICOLOGIA DELLO SVILUPPO E PSICOLOGIA DELL'EDUCAZIONE
Repository Staff approval on:18 Dec 2015 10:28

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