Maternal responsiveness and sensitivity reconsidered: Some is more

Marc H. Bornstein, Nanmathi Manian
2013 Development and Psychopathology  
Is it always or necessarily the case that common and important parenting practices are better, insofar as they occur more often, or worse, because they occur less often? Perhaps, less is more, or some is more. To address this question, we studied mothers' microcoded contingent responsiveness to their infants (M ¼ 5.4 months, SD ¼ 0.2) in relation to independent global judgments of the same mothers' parenting sensitivity. In a community sample of 335 European American dyads, videorecorded infant
more » ... and maternal behaviors were timed microanalytically throughout an extended home observation; separately and independently, global maternal sensitivity was rated macroanalytically. Sequential analysis and spline regression showed that, as maternal contingent responsiveness increased, judged maternal sensitivity increased to significance on the contingency continuum, after which mothers who were even more contingent were judged less sensitive. Just significant levels of maternal responsiveness are deemed optimally sensitive. Implications of these findings for typical and atypical parenting, child development, and intervention science are discussed. The perfect is the enemy of the good. -Voltaire
doi:10.1017/s0954579413000308 pmid:24229542 pmcid:PMC3831361 fatcat:mpmzngif3rdnpe3bgo6ybomh4u