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A preliminary investigation of adult defence style and physiological reactivity to infant distress signals

Gould, E.L., Lane, T. and Lewis, A.J. (2011) A preliminary investigation of adult defence style and physiological reactivity to infant distress signals. Psychology Research, 1 (6). pp. 410-421.

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Abstract

Species whose offspring require extended care-giving ought to be predisposed to being biologically responsive to their infant’s signalling. This paper examined the interplay between biological and psychological aspects of adult response to an infant’s distress. HR (heart rate) and GSR (galvanic skin response) were recorded continuously, while 50 adults listened to white noise and an infant cry audio recording. Participants completed the defence style questionnaire and the state trait anxiety inventory. HR acceleration occurred in response to the control sound, while HR decelerated in response to the infant cry. GSR responsiveness was positively correlated with immature and neurotic defence styles. When controlling for other variables, immature defence was a unique and independent predictor of GSR change in response to infant distress. Defence demonstrated a stronger relationship than self-reported anxiety, than that with physiological responsiveness. Employing defence mechanisms appears to reduce an individual’s perceived anxiety, though it has little effect on physiological arousal levels.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: David Publishing Company
Publishers Website: http://www.davidpublishing.com/show.html?4913
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/30839
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