This study describes maternal and infant contributions to dyadic affective exchanges during the Still-Face Paradigm (SFP) in an understudied mostly low-income sample. One hundred eleven mothers and their 7-month-old infants were videotaped during the SFP to analyze how a social stressor affects mother-infant positive and negative affective exchanges during interaction. The SFP includes 3 episodes: baseline, maternal still-face, and reunion. Maternal and infant positive and negative affect were scored by masked reliable coders. Data were analyzed using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model to test the hypotheses that each partner's affectivity during the baseline episode would predict their own affectivity during the reunion episode (actor effects). We also expected that each partner's affectivity during the baseline episode would influence the other partner's affectivity during the reunion episodes (partner effects). After controlling for infant sex and maternal education, results provided evidence for actor effects for maternal and infant positive affect, and for partner effects for maternal baseline positive affect to infant positive affect during the reunion. One significant partner effect was observed for negative affect: Infant negativity during baseline predicted greater maternal negativity during reunion. Findings confirm that both mothers and infants contribute to dyadic affective processes during the SFP but specific findings vary depending on the affective valence in question. Clinical implications and future research are discussed.
Keywords: Actor partner interdependence model; Dyadic interaction; Mother-infant affective processes; Still-Face Paradigm.
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