Infant responses to frustration: Individual differences in the expression of negative affect

Cynthia A. Stifter, Wanda Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the contribution of infant characteristics (temperament and motivation) and parental expressivity to infants' emotional response to frustration. Subjects were 84 10-month-old infants and their families. Frustration was created by having infants and mothers play with a toy after which mothers were cued to remove the toy from the infants' reach but within their sight. After two minutes, the toy was returned to the infants. The infants' emotional responses were measured in two ways, vocally and facially. Infant motivation was coded by noting the degree to which the infant was interested and positively involved with the toy. Infant temperament was obtained through mother report. Parental reports of their own emotional expressivity were obtained through questionnaire. The results indicated that the degree to which infants were interested in the toy predicted the intensity with which they became angry when the toy was removed. Parental expressivity and infant temperament were also related to emotion expressivity. Fathers' but not mothers' negative expressivity was associated with infants' expression of anger and distress but in a negative direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-204
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Nonverbal Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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