The impact of the perinatal period and the perinatal affective state of the mother on the emotional attentive skills of both mother and baby

ContributorsMarks, Tessa
Number of pages82
Master program titleMaîtrise universitaire en psychologie
Imprimatur date2023-03-21
Defense date2023-03-21

The aim of this study was to contribute to the knowledge about the underlying mechanisms of how the perinatal period and the maternal affective state during this time influence the emotional attentive skills in mother and infant. It was chosen to use the inhibition of return (IOR) mechanism as the measure of attentional control as this mechanism is present in both mothers and babies. IOR describes an attentional effect where people are slower to respond to targets in previously cued, or previously attended to locations, than to unattended locations. The sample consisted of 12 women, with their babies as well as a control group consisting of 20 women participants. Emotional attentive skills were measured in an experiment using an eye tracker measuring eye saccade latencies towards different emotional cues (happy, neutral or sad faces) and subsequent cues on the same (ipsi) or on the other (contralateral) side. The women were evaluated in the 3rd semester of their pregnancy and when their babies were 6 months old, the babies were also evaluated at this time, using the same experiment. The control group was evaluated once. The maternal affective state was measured using different selfreport questionnaires. Results confirmed the influence on the emotional and attentive processing for women in the perinatal period with a heightened sensitivity to happy and sad faces, measured by a deficient IOR. This study also confirms a tendency for women reporting signs of depression in the prenatal period to show a bias for sad faces. The study was not able to confirm an influence of the pre- or postnatal maternal affective state in the pre-and postnatal period on the emotional attentive skills of the infant. There were no significant modifications found in the IOR for the babies, nor a symmetrical modification in mother and baby. However, it is recommended for this study to be replicated with a more sizable sample and modified experimental conditions to facilitate evaluation of the baby group.

Citation (ISO format)
MARKS, Tessa. The impact of the perinatal period and the perinatal affective state of the mother on the emotional attentive skills of both mother and baby. 2023.
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Master thesis
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