Infant and Child Development

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Volume 21 Issue 4 (July/August 2012), Pages i-ii, 325-441

Maternal Sensitivity: Evidence of Stability across Time, Contexts, and Measurement Instruments (pages 348-355)

Although maternal sensitivity is widely understood as having a direct impact on the quality of the mother–child relationship, empirical evidence supporting this has been inconsistent, possibly because of varied definitions of the construct and limitations of measurements. The Maternal Behavior Q‐Set (MBQS) appears to be a promising measure of sensitivity, showing associations with attachment security (r = .60) higher than those reported (r = .24) in a highly‐regarded meta‐analysis of other sensitivity measures. The present study aimed to further establish the validity and utility of the MBQS by exploring its consistency with a contingency‐based measure of sensitivity, while also seeking evidence of stability across contexts and times. Seventy‐two mothers and their 10‐month‐olds participated in a procedure that included two episodes of Floor Play and Reunions following maternal differential treatment. Mothers were scored on contingent responsivity and warmth. At 12 months, the dyads underwent the Strange Situation Procedure where sensitivity was assessed using a 72‐item version of the MBQS. The findings revealed the stability of maternal sensitivity across times, contexts, and measures. However, linkages applied only to 10‐month scores from reunion, not play, episodes, supporting Pederson and Moran's (1995) assertion that high‐demand circumstances reveal more meaningful differences in maternal sensitivity. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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