Attention‐getting vs. imitation effects on depressed mother‐infant interactions

Jeffrey Pickens, Tiffany M Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


The effects of instructing mothers to “imitate” their infant versus “keep their infant's atten tion” were examined during mother‐infant face‐to‐face interactions of 18 mothers reporting depressive symptoms as compared with 22 mothers who did not report such symptoms. Mothers were generally rated as showing more positive facial expressions and more game playing (particularly the depressed mothers) during the attention‐getting versus the imitation sessions. The infants received more optimal physical ac tivity, and facial expression ratings during attention getting, and the infants of depressed mothers, in par ticular, showed more positive facial expressivity and more joy expressions. As might be expected for the imitation condition, mothers showed more imitative behavior, contingent responsivity, and silence during gaze aversion. Infants generally showed more disinterest and self‐comfort behaviors, and the infants of depressed mothers, in particular, showed more anger expressions, fussiness, and squirming during the imitation condition. The data suggest that the attention‐getting condition was the most effective “intervention” for eliciting positive behavior in the depressed mother‐infant dyads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-181
Number of pages11
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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