This study aimed to identify factors, namely adult attachment and childhood parenting experiences, to investigate individual differences in parenting behavior using an infant simulator paradigm.
One hundred and eighteen college-aged females completed questionnaires about adult attachment, how their parents responded to negative emotions, and attitudes about infant crying. Participants then interacted with a distressed infant simulator, while their behavior with the simulator and physiology were recorded.
Attachment avoidance was associated with less infant-oriented beliefs and more parent-oriented beliefs about infant crying. Adult attachment avoidance was also associated with greater physiological reactivity during the task, more physiological regulation, and increased caregiving behaviors. Attachment anxiety was related to a decrease in heart rate during the task. Remembered nonsupportive parental reactions were associated with more parent-oriented beliefs about infant crying as well as more caregiving during the task. However, caregiving quality was not related to any variables of interest in the study.
Implications addressing potential intervention programs using the infant simulator and targeting at-risk populations to understand individual differences in parenting are discussed.