Insufficient responsiveness in ambivalent mother-infant relationships: Contextual and affective aspects

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The present study focused on mother-infant relationships across different situations in order to compare the ways secure and ambivalent-resistant dyads modulate positive and negative emotionality. Sixty-one Israeli mothers and their 12-month-old non-risk infants participated in a sequence of free play, Ainsworth Strange Situation, and a task involving filling out questionnaires, one of which referred to anxiety in the dyad. A comparison between the mothers of secure (n=49) and ambivalent (n=12) infants indicated that the latter group displayed less positive affect in play, reported more separation anxiety, but, at the same time, did not respond in a sufficient way to their child's bids for attention after experiencing a stressful separation. This pattern of results throws further light on the antecedents and correlates of ambivalent mother-child relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-383
Number of pages13
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The collection of data reported herein was partially supported by grants to the second author from the Israel Science Foundation and the Israel Foundation Trustees; a grant to the first author, from the Israel Foundation Trustees, assisted in subsequent data coding. The authors wish to thank Nina Koren-Karie, Tirza Joels, Eva Farveroff, Hamutal Rothshild, and Adva Neeman for scoring the data.


  • Affect regulation
  • Ambivalent-resistant infants and mothers
  • Attachment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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