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Kammermeier, Marina and Paulus, Markus (2021): Maternal sensitivity and non-intrusiveness at 12 months predict attention to emotional facial expressions at 24 months: A cross-lagged panel approach. In: Social Development, Vol. 31, No. 2: pp. 319-338

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Following theoretical proposals emphasizing the role of caregiver behavior for child emotion processing, this study investigated whether maternal sensitivity and non-intrusiveness predicted child attention to emotional facial expressions, assessed via eye tracking, as the earliest stage of emotion regulation. Maternal behavior and child attention were assessed at 12 (N = 118) and 24 months. Cross-lagged panel analyses revealed predictive effects of maternal sensitivity at 12 months on child attention to sad and happy expressions at 24 months. Moreover, maternal non-intrusiveness at 12 months predicted child attention to sad expressions at 24 months. Effects were independent of child gender and temperament. The findings highlight the pervasive impact of caregiver sensitivity on emotion processing in the early years.

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