Non-attuned mind-mindedness, infant negative affect, and emotional availability

assessing mind-mindedness during the still-face paradigm

Catherine McMahon, Brooklyn Newey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Mind‐mindedness captures caregiver orientation to infant mental states expressed in mind‐related comments to infant cues, typically assessed during free play. There are two orthogonal dimensions: Appropriate comments accurately interpret the infant's experience, and non‐attuned comments are judged by observers to be inaccurate interpretations. Appropriate comments have been consistently associated with optimal caregiving behavior, but less is known about non‐attuned comments, rare during free play. Further, available evidence suggests mind‐mindedness is independent of infant temperament, but few studies have examined relations between mind‐mindedness and infant behavior during real‐time interaction. We addressed these issues using the Still‐Face Paradigm. Participants were 76 mothers and their 7‐month‐old infants. Mind‐mindedness, emotional availability, and infant negative affect were independently coded. Unexpectedly, appropriate mind‐related comments were not associated with emotional availability nor with infant negative affect. Mothers who made non‐attuned comments showed lower emotional availability, and their infants showed more extreme responses to the still‐face—either no negative affect or crying. Infants whose mothers made non‐attuned comments early showed less recovery in reunion episodes. Infant negative affect in early episodes also influenced mind‐related comments; mothers whose infants showed no negative affect made fewer appropriate comments in later episodes. Implications of assessing mind‐mindedness in stress contexts are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-892
Number of pages20
Issue number6
Early online date25 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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