Factors that affect a mother's perception of her child's temperament
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This study sought to contribute to the growing literature suggesting that a mother's perception of her infant's temperament is affected by determinants other than merely the child's objective behavioral style; i.e. factors relating to who the mother is. Using the Carey Infant Temperament Questionnaire, and the Bates Infant Characteristic Questionnaire as measures of infant difficultness, 57 mothers and their 9 to 16 month old children were assessed. Predictor variables included maternal level of anxiety and mother's age. In addition, working from a kind of "goodness of fit" model, it was suggested that the degree of congruence between a mother's own temperament and that of her child may affect her perception. Consistent with the study's hypotheses, level of maternal anxiety was shown to have the strongest and most global effect on the temperament ratings, with anxious mothers perceiving their children as more difficult than non-anxious mothers. These findings were discussed in terms of the possible directions of this relationship (e.g. do anxious mothers make their children temperamentally difficult?). Further, younger mothers and those who perceived their infants as temperamentally more different from themselves were found to described their children as more difficult on some but not all of the temperament variables. Some hypotheses were suggested to explain the inconsistent findings with regard to these variables. Finally, differences in responding to the Carey and the Bates questionnaires suggested that a mother's perceptions of her child, when asked in relatively transparent and impressionistic terms, as on the Bates, is likely to be affected by her denial or minimizing the difficulty.