Intrusive and withdrawn behaviours of mothers interacting with their infants and boyfriends

Sybil Hart, Tiffany Field, Nancy Jones, Regina Yando

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Investigated stability and change in intrusive and withdrawn interaction behaviours of 23 mothers in Study 1 and 31 mothers in Study 2. Comparisons between mother-infant and mother-boyfriend interactions revealed that mothers who had been withdrawn with their infants were quiet, bored-looking, physically distant, and underinvolved with their boyfriends. Mothers who had been intrusive with their infants were verbally sharp and controlling with their boyfriends. These findings suggested stability across social contexts. Comparing maternal responding to instructions to think about themselves (self-focus) or their infants (infant-focus) revealed that infant-focusing attenuated intrusive behavior among intrusive mothers and self-focusing attenuated negative affect among withdrawn mothers. These findings suggested that cognitive focusing ameliorates nonoptimal maternal behaviours and has differential effects on intrusive and withdrawn mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-245
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Infancy
  • Perinatal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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