The Inconsolable Doll Task: Prenatal coparenting behavioral dynamics under stress predicting child cognitive development at 18 months

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Abstract

Studies have demonstrated that coparenting can be assessed prenatally through playful observational conditions, including simulated baby enactments. Regrettably, there is a lack of empirical research examining how prenatal coparenting under the emotional stress elicited by the distress of a simulated infant predicts children's cognitive development. The current longitudinal study introduces a novel procedure—the Inconsolable Doll Task—to assess prenatal coparenting behavioral dynamics under the stress of a non-responsive doll simulator, and examines the extent to which prenatal interaction patterns predict the child's cognitive development at 18 months. The sample consists of 105 community-based, co-living, expectant fathers and mothers. Data were collected prenatally, at three, six, and 18 months in home and lab visits. Results indicate that the prenatal coparenting dynamic of negative escalation explains a unique variance in children's cognitive development at 18 months. This effect is evident even when accounting for both prenatal and postnatal assessments of low-stress coparenting behavioral patterns or self-reported coparenting perceptions, and when controlling for parental education. These findings are discussed in terms of their methodical, empirical, and clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101254
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume56
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Cognitive development
  • Coparenting
  • Doll simulator
  • Prenatal
  • RealCare Baby II-Plus infant simulator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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