Mother parity as a main and moderating influence on early mother-infant interaction

Margaret Fish, Cynthia A. Stifter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


This study investigated main and moderating effects of mother parity on maternal attitudes and behaviors. In a sample of 87 mothers with 5-month-old infants, relations between determinants of parenting (maternal personality, marital quality, infant negative emotionality) and maternal behavior and attitudes (sensitivity, self-efficacy, mother-reported infant temperament) were examined as a function of parity. Results revealed both main and moderating effects of parity. Multiparous mothers reported higher self-efficacy, whereas primiparous mothers reported more of an increase in marital ambivalence following the baby's birth. The relations of self-efficacy, sensitivity, and mother-reported infant temperament to a laboratory measure of infant crying all differed by parity. In addition, for primiparous mothers, negative personality traits related to reported infant temperament, and for multiparous mothers, marital ambivalence and maternal sensitivity appeared to reflect a compensatory process. These results suggest that parity contributes to explaining how differing family systems influence development during infancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-572
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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