Maternal mind-mindedness: relations with maternal-fetal attachment and stability in the first two years of life: findings from an Australian prospective study

Catherine McMahon*, Anna Lisa Camberis, Sinead Berry, Frances Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mind-mindedness captures a caregiver's attunement to his or her infant's mental states, and the tendency to interpret behavior as resulting from these mental states. The construct is assessed through analysis of maternal language during interaction or from mothers' use of mental state words when invited to describe their child. This study examined whether maternal-fetal attachment predicted maternal mind-mindedness, whether there was continuity in mind-mindedness over the first 2 postnatal years, and concordance for the two approaches to measurement. One hundred fifty women completed a questionnaire measure of maternal-fetal attachment in the third trimester of pregnancy and participated in home visits to assess maternal mind-mindedness when their infants were 7 months and 19 months of age. Path analysis showed that maternal-fetal attachment predicted indices of maternal mind-mindedness at 7 and 19 months; mothers who made more mind-related comments during play at 7 months also did so at 19 months, and mothers who made more mind-related comments during play at 19 months also used more mental state words when describing their child. Results suggest that a proclivity to mind-mindedness may be a caregiver characteristic that is present prior to birth and stable over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

Keywords

  • maternal mind-mindedness
  • maternal-fetal attachment

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