Infant’s Differential Social Response to Mother and Experimenter

Relationships to Maternal Characteristics and Quality of Infant Play
  • George A. Morgan
  • Nancy A. Busch-Rossnagel
  • Rex E. Culp
  • Annette K. Vance
  • Janet J. Fritz
Part of the Topics in Developmental Psychobiology book series (TDP)


This chapter focuses on infants’ socioemotional reactions to their mother and to a relatively unfamiliar experimenter during a structured social interaction sequence similar to the one developed by Klein and Durfee (1976). Infants were divided into two groups based on their differential (comparative) pattern of reaction to experimenter and mother rather than the more common procedure (e.g., Morgan & Ricciuti, 1969) of using only the reaction to the experimenter or analyzing the reactions to the two adults separately. We felt, based on a study by Harmon, Suwalsky, and Klein (1979), that grouping infants by the type of differential social reaction they showed could provide a meaningful index of the quality of the infant—mother relationship. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the type of differential social response would be related on the one hand to maternal characteristics and on the other hand to the quality of infant play. Thus differential social response is conceptualized as an intervening variable mediating the relationships between maternal variables and child variables.


Maternal Characteristic Free Play Maternal Anxiety Career Interest Strange Situation 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ainsworth, M. D. S. Infant—mother attachment. American Psychologist, 1979, 34, 932–937.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M. D. S., and Bell, S. M. Mother—infant interaction and the development of competence. In K. J. Connolly and J. S. Bruner (Eds.), The growth of competence. New York: Academic Press, 1974.Google Scholar
  3. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., and Wall, S. Patterns of attachment. Hillsdale, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1978.Google Scholar
  4. Busch-Rossnagel, N. A., and Peters, D. L. Parental development in first-time mothers of handicapped, at-risk, and normal children. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 1980, 3, 229–230.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cattell, R. B. Self analysis form. Champaign: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing, 1976.Google Scholar
  6. Clarke-Stewart, K. A. Interactions between mothers and their young children: Characteristics and consequences. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 1973, 38,(67, serial No. 153).Google Scholar
  7. Gaiter, J. G., Morgan, G. A., Jennings, K. D., Harmon, R. J., and Yarrow, L. J. Variety of cognitively-oriented caregiver activities: Relationships to cognitive and motivational functioning at 1 and 3 1/2 years of age. Journal of Genetic Psychology, in press, 1982.Google Scholar
  8. Harmon, R. J., Morgan, G. A., and Klein, R. P. Determinants of normal variation in infants’ negative reactions to unfamiliar adults. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 1977, 16, 670–683.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Harmon, R. J., Suwalsky, J. D., and Klein, R. P. Infants’ preferential response for mother versus an unfamiliar adult: Relationship to attachment. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 1979, 18, 437–449.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hazaleus, M. B. Inter-role conflict of employed mothers. Unpublished masters thesis, Colorado State University, 1970.Google Scholar
  11. Kagan, J. Family experience and the child’s development. American Psychologist, 1979, 34, 886–891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Klein, R. P., and Durfee, J. T. Infants’ reactions to unfamiliar adults versus mothers. Child Development, 1976, 47, 1194–1196.Google Scholar
  13. Krug, S. E., Scheier, I. H., and Cattell, R. B. Handbook for the IPAT Anxiety Scale. Champaign: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing, 1976.Google Scholar
  14. LMAT. Champaign: Institute of Personality and Ability Testing, 1975.Google Scholar
  15. Main, M. Exploration, play, and level of cognitive functioning as related to child-mother attachment. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Johns Hopkins University, 1973.Google Scholar
  16. Masters, J., and Wellman, H. Human infant attachment: A procedural critique. Psychological Bulletin, 1974, 81, 218–237.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Matas, L, Arend, R. A., and Sroufe, L. A. Continuity of adaptation in the second year: The relationship between quality of attachment and later competence. Child Development, 1978, 49, 547–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Morgan, G. A., and Riccuiti, H. N. Infants’ responses to strangers during the first year. In B. M. Foss (Ed.), Determinants of infant behavior (Vol. 4 ). London: Methuen, 1969.Google Scholar
  19. Morgan, G. A., Levin, B., and Harmon, R. J. Determinants of individual differences in infants’ reactions to unfamiliar adults. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 1975, 5, 277. ( Ms. No. 1006 )Google Scholar
  20. Morgan, G. A., Harmon, R. J., and Bennett, Ca. A. A system for coding and scoring infants’ spontaneous play with objects. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 1976, 6, 105. ( Ms. No. 1355 )Google Scholar
  21. Ottinger, D. R., and Simmons, J. E. Behavior of human neonates and prenatal maternal anxiety. Psychological Reports, 1964, 14, 391–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Sroufe, L. A. The coherence of individual development: Early care, attachment, and subsequent developmental issues. American Psychologist, 1979, 34, 834–841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sroufe, L. A., and Waters, E. Attachment as an organizational construct. Child Development, 1977, 48, 1184–1199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Stayton, D. J., and Ainsworth, M. D. S. Individual differences in infant responses to brief, everyday separations as related to other infant and maternal behaviors. Developmental Psychology, 1973, 9, 226–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stevenson, M. B., and Lamb, M. E. Effects of infant sociability and the caretaking environment on infant cognitive performance. Child Development, 1979, 50, 340–349.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Waters, E., Wippman, J., and Sroufe, L. A. Attachment, positive affect, and competence in the peer group: Two studies in construct validation. Child Development, 1979, 50, 821–829.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • George A. Morgan
    • 1
  • Nancy A. Busch-Rossnagel
    • 1
  • Rex E. Culp
    • 1
  • Annette K. Vance
    • 1
  • Janet J. Fritz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

Personalised recommendations