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Mothers’ electrophysiological, subjective, and observed emotional responding to infant crying: The role of secure base script knowledge

  • Ashley M. Groh (a1), Glenn I. Roisman (a2), Katherine C. Haydon (a3), Kelly Bost (a4), Nancy McElwain (a4), Leanna Garcia (a4) and Colleen Hester (a5)...


This study examined the extent to which secure base script knowledge—reflected in the ability to generate narratives in which attachment-relevant events are encountered, a clear need for assistance is communicated, competent help is provided and accepted, and the problem is resolved—is associated with mothers’ electrophysiological, subjective, and observed emotional responses to an infant distress vocalization. While listening to an infant crying, mothers (N = 108, M age = 34 years) lower on secure base script knowledge exhibited smaller shifts in relative left (vs. right) frontal EEG activation from rest, reported smaller reductions in feelings of positive emotion from rest, and expressed greater levels of tension. Findings indicate that lower levels of secure base script knowledge are associated with an organization of emotional responding indicative of a less flexible and more emotionally restricted response to infant distress. Discussion focuses on the contribution of mothers’ attachment representations to their ability to effectively manage emotional responding to infant distress in a manner expected to support sensitive caregiving.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Ashley M. Groh, University of Missouri at Columbia, Department of Psychological Sciences, Columbia, MO 65211; E-mail:


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Mothers’ electrophysiological, subjective, and observed emotional responding to infant crying: The role of secure base script knowledge

  • Ashley M. Groh (a1), Glenn I. Roisman (a2), Katherine C. Haydon (a3), Kelly Bost (a4), Nancy McElwain (a4), Leanna Garcia (a4) and Colleen Hester (a5)...


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