Maternal responsiveness and infant mental abilities: Specific predictive relations

Marc H. Bornstein, Catherine S. Tamis-Lemonda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Specific predictive relations between mothers' responsiveness to their 5-month-olds' nondistress activities and vocal distress and infants' attention span, symbolic play, and language comprehension at 13 months were examined in 36 dyads in a short-term prospective longitudinal study. Maternal responsiveness to infant nondistress activities at 5 months, but not responsiveness to infant distress, uniquely predicted infant attention span and symbolic play, but not infant language comprehension. Mothers' responsiveness at 13 months was positively and consistently, but not significantly, associated with all three infant abilities. The results support a view that the effects of maternal responsiveness on infant mental development are specific and indirect rather than generic and direct and recommend further differentiation of infant activity, maternal responsiveness, and child outcome in studies of children's early mental development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-296
Number of pages14
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


  • Attention
  • Infant activity
  • Language comprehension
  • Maternal responsiveness
  • Prediction
  • Symbolic play

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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