Examining the Regulation of Negative Affect within a Multi-dimensional Framework in Six Month Old Infants Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 20, 2019
  • Sutton, Kelly
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • The measures of multiple dimensions of expressed negative affect and putative behavioral strategies of regulation in the current study afforded the opportunity to examine early regulation of negative affect within a multi-dimensional framework of emotion. The purpose of the current study was to first describe the dynamic, multi-dimensional nature of expressed negative affect and the use of behavioral strategies of regulation. The study then investigated the relationships between the various dimensions of negative affect and behavioral strategies of regulation, as well as the influence of temperament and the care-giving context on early emotion regulation Participants of the study included 129 six-month-old infants from the Durham Child and Health Study. As part of this study, infants' expressions of negative affect and their use of behavioral strategies of regulation were observed during the still-face procedure. Measures of temperament were obtained via mother report on the Infant Behavior Questionnaire, while measures of maternal sensitivity were obtained during observations of a free play session. Maternal ethnicity and level of education were obtained through questionnaires. While the results demonstrated that there was considerable variability in the expression of negative affect across the multiple dimensions, there was only a modest indication that a multi-dimensional framework was important. There was some degree of evidence that the dimensions may combine to form stylistic response to challenging situations, which may, in turn, influence an infants regulatory efforts. The use of three behavioral strategies (object play, reaching, and venting) differentiated between identified stylistic responses to the still-face. Results from the study also suggest that maternal ethnicity and maternal education were important predictors for expressed negative affect, but not for the use of behavioral strategies of regulation. Generally, infants with African-American mothers displayed less intense negative affect, for shorter durations, and with less lability. Furthermore, infants whose mothers reported lower levels of education expressed negative affect for longer durations with a shorter speed of onset than infants whose mothers reported higher levels of education. Importantly, these predictors were differentially related to the four separate dimension of negative affect, which provides limited support of a multi-dimensional conceptualization of negative affect and emotion regulation.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Cox, Martha
  • Gariépy, Jean-Louis
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2006

This work has no parents.