Atypical expressions of jealousy in infants of intrusive- and withdrawn-depressed mothers

Sybil Hart, Nancy Aaron Jones, Tiffany Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


To determine whether atypical jealousy responses in infants of depressed mothers are differentiated by maternal nonoptimal interactive profiles, 12-month-old infants of intrusive-depressed and withdrawn-depressed mothers were observed with their mothers and a stranger in two contexts. In the first, infants were fully ignored in a less stressful context in which the adults focused on a picture book. In the second, infants were fully ignored in a more stressful, jealousy-inducement context, in which the adults attended to an infant-like doll. Cross-context comparisons revealed that the jealousy-inducement condition was associated with infants of intrusive-depressed mothers demonstrating greater play, and lesser proximal and distal behaviors toward their mothers. In contrast, the jealousy-inducement condition was associated with infants of withdrawn-depressed mothers directing greater proximal contacts toward the stranger. This investigation identified that as early as infancy, dysregulated expressions of jealousy are differentiated by depressed mothers' nonoptimal interactive patterns. Findings of this preliminary study call for investigative attention to this uncharted area of inquiry into mental health, and specifically, works addressing the importance of maternal characteristics to the unfolding of normative and atypical jealousy in infancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-207
Number of pages15
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003
Externally publishedYes



  • Infants
  • Intrusive
  • Jealousy
  • Maternal depression
  • Withdrawn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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