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A life history perspective on maternal emotional investments during infancy

Myers, Sarah, Johns, Sarah E. (2018) A life history perspective on maternal emotional investments during infancy. TBC, . (Submitted) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

Purpose: Mother-infant emotional bonding is positively associated with infant development, appears contingent on maternal and infant condition, and is energetically costly – thus we propose it reflects an early form of parental investment. We assessed mothers’ views on the importance of bonding for child development and whether bonding is subject to trade-offs based on a mother’s available ‘emotional capital’. Methods: A longitudinal survey study tracked Western women across the perinatal period (wave1 n = 97, wave2 n = 57, wave3 n = 47). Maternal emotional investment was measured by bonding strength at 1 month postpartum and self-reported time taken to bond at 6 months. Emotional capital, defined as a mother’s available emotional support from a variety of figures and her emotional resources (emotional intelligence, emotional personality, and emotional wellbeing), was recorded during pregnancy and 6 months postpartum. Results: 1) Mothers viewed emotional bonding as highly important. 2) Measures of emotional capital mostly improved bonding; however, paternal support negatively predicted bonding strength and support from the father’s family increased time to bonding. 3) Bonding strength positively predicted declines in overall emotional resources and emotional intelligence. 4) Emotional support moderated a variety of dimensions of the relationship between bonding and declines in emotional resources. Conclusions: Maternal emotional investments are highly valued, yet contingent on circumstance, with bonding appearing to incur costs to a mother’s emotional resources when access to emotional support is low. High support from an infant’s paternal kin may allow mothers to offset their emotional investment costs.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Bonding; Life History Theory; Emotional Capital; Emotional Support; Trade-offs; Parental Investment
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biological Anthropology
Depositing User: Sarah Johns
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2018 18:37 UTC
Last Modified: 30 May 2019 08:32 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/70920 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Johns, Sarah E.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7715-7351
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