Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 185–196 | Cite as

Mothers' responses to infants' facial expressions of sadness, anger, and physical distress

  • Robin R. Huebner
  • Carroll E. Izard


It was hypothesized the mothers' predictions of their caregiving interventions would be differentially influenced by infants' facial expressions of sadness, anger, and physical distress. Mothers viewed slides of infants whose facial displays had first been objectively classified with the Maximally Discriminative Facial Movement Coding System (Izard, 1979). Mothers imagined their infants showing similar expressions while scaling their own tendencies to respond with a number of specific caregiving and socializing interventions and affective reactions. Multivariate ANOVAs showed that the mothers' predictions differed for the three types of negative display. In an emotion decoding task, mothers' responses did not differ as a function of the infants' sex. The patterns of decoded emotions were most similar between physical distress and anger expressions, and least similar between physical distress and sadness expressions. Generally, the findings supported the hypothesis that the negative facial displayes signaled different affective states and had differential motivational effects on the mothers.


Social Psychology Facial Expression Similar Expression Affective State Code System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin R. Huebner
    • 1
  • Carroll E. Izard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of DelawareNewark

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