Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp 1439–1453 | Cite as

Associations between Infant Behaviors during the Face-To-Face Still-Face Paradigm and Oppositional Defiant and Callous-Unemotional Behaviors in Early Childhood

  • Nicholas J. Wagner
  • W. Roger Mills-Koonce
  • Cathi B. Propper
  • Michael T. Willoughby
  • Pete D. Rehder
  • Ginger A. Moore
  • Martha J. Cox


Deficits in social orienting (i.e., gazing toward caregivers) during dyadic interactions and reactivity to stressful stimuli have been identified as behavioral correlates of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and callous-unemotional (CU) behaviors in older children. The goal of the current study was to investigate infants’ mother-directed gaze and reactivity during the face-to-face and still-face episodes of the face-to-face stillface paradigm performed at 6 months in the prediction of ODD and CU behaviors in early childhood. Using data from the Durham Child Health and Development study (n = 206), hierarchical regression analyses revealed that infants’ negative reactivity during the still-face episode and mother-directed gaze during the face-to-face episode predicted fewer ODD behaviors in early childhood. Examination of interaction effects suggested that mother-directed gaze attenuated the negative relation between reactivity and ODD and CU behaviors in early childhood. The current study is one of the first to extend downward the investigation of ODD and CU behaviors into infancy.


Oppositional defiant Callous-unemotional Infancy Reactivity Parenting 



We thank all the parents and children who participated in the Durham Child Health and Development Study and the research assistants for their valuable efforts in collecting this data.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was supported by the National Science Foundation through Children’s Research Initiative Grant (BCS-0126475).

Conflict of Interest

Nicholas Wagner declares that he has no conflict of interest. Roger Mills-Koonce declares that he has no conflict of interest. Cathi Propper declares that she has no conflict of interest. Michael Willoughby declares that he has no conflict of interest. Pete Rehder declares that he has no conflict of interest. Ginger Moore declares that she has no conflict of interest. Martha Cox declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas J. Wagner
    • 1
  • W. Roger Mills-Koonce
    • 2
  • Cathi B. Propper
    • 3
  • Michael T. Willoughby
    • 4
  • Pete D. Rehder
    • 2
  • Ginger A. Moore
    • 5
  • Martha J. Cox
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  3. 3.Center for Developmental ScienceUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.RTI InternationalResearch Triangle ParkUSA
  5. 5.Penn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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