Infant-mother and infant-father synchrony: The coregulation of positive arousal

Ruth Feldman

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409 Scopus citations


To examine the coregulation of positive affect during mother-infant and father-infant interactions, 100 couples and their first-born child were videotaped in face-to-face interactions. Parents' and infant's affective states were coded in one-second frames, and synchrony was measured with time-series analysis. The orientation, intensity, and temporal pattern of infant positive arousal were assessed. Synchrony between same-gender parent-infant dyads was more optimal in tenus of stronger lagged associations between parent and infant affect, more frequent mutual synchrony, and shorter lags to responsiveness. Infants' arousal during mother-infant interaction cycled between medium and low levels, and high positive affect appeared gradually and was embedded within a social episode. During father-child play, positive arousal was high, sudden, and organized in multiple peaks that appeared more frequently as play progressed. Mother-infant synchrony was linked to the partners' social orientation and was inversely related to maternal depression and infant negative emotionality. Father-child synchrony was related to the intensity of positive arousal and to father attachment security. Results contribute to research on the regulation of positive emotions and describe the unique modes of affective sharing that infants coconstruct with mother and father.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


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