Infant Reactivity: Physiological Correlates of Newborn and 5-Month Temperament

Cynthia A. Stifter, Nathan A. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


The relation between measures of heart period and vagal tone and infant reactivity was investigated in a longitudinal study of infants from birth to 5 months of age. At 2 days of age, electrocardiogram (EKG) was recorded and a pacifier-withdrawal task was administered. At 5 months of age, EKG was recorded, after which infants and mothers participated in a laboratory session designed to elicit positive and negative reactivity. Maternal ratings of 5-month infant temperament were also obtained. There was a significant concurrent relation between 5-month vagal tone and negative reactivity elicited in the laboratory and maternal ratings of activity level and smiling behavior. Newborn vagal tone predicted maternal ratings of frustration and fear. Moderate stability was found for infant reactivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-588
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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