Previous research has shown that as depressive symptomology increases, mothers tend to show withdrawn or harsh interaction patterns with their children, and the quality of these interaction patterns have subsequently been linked to child behavior problems. However, little research has examined bidirectional influences between mothers and their children, and how these moment-to-moment contingencies differ based on heritable and environmental characteristics. We used data from the Early Growth and Development Study a prospective adoption study to examine how adoptive mothers’ depressive symptoms and children's heritable tendencies for negative affectivity interact to predict the quality of mother-child interactions at child age 27-months. Results detected two distinct dyadic interaction patterns. The first was a withdrawn interaction style and was observed in children with a high heritable tendency for negative affect. In that style, mother and child interactions were not contingent upon each other, suggesting a lack of joint engagement. The second was a volatile interaction style, observed in children with a low heritable tendency for negative affect. In these cases, mother and child interactions were highly contingent but negative. Our findings demonstrate essential differences in how dyadic interaction patterns vary according to level of depressive symptomology and heritable tendency for negative affect.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology