Regulation of negative reactivity during the strange situation: Temperament and attachment in 12-month-old infants

Julia M. Braungart, Cynthia A. Stifter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to examine 12-month-olds' regulatory behaviors displayed during the Strange Situation and the extent to which those behaviors were related to infants' negative reactivity and attachment classification. Subjects included 80 healthy firstborn infants and their mothers. Negative affect and four regulatory categories (people orientation, object orientation, self-comforting behaviors, and toy exploration) were measured during the Strange Situation. Correlational analyses revealed that infants who were overtly upset oriented less toward people, more toward objects, and engaged in less toy exploration. Analyses of variance yielded significant differences for attachment groups (A, B1-B2, B3-B4, and C) in reactivity and regulation. The B1-B2 secure subgroup showed low levels of distress and low levels of regulation. Conversely, the B3-B4 secure subgroup displayed high levels of negative affect and high levels of regulatory behaviors during separation and reunion episodes (e.g., people and object orientation). Infants classified as insecure-avoidant displayed moderate amounts of distress, contrary to expectations, and exhibited self-directed types of regulation (e.g., self-comforting and toy exploration). Finally, insecure-resistant infants expressed intense levels of negative reactivity, exhibited some regulatory behaviors during separation, but little regulation during reunion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-364
Number of pages16
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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