Relations Among Adolescent Motherhood, Caregiving Experience, and Perceptual and Caregiving Responses to Infant Cries
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Prospective analyses suggest that young mothers may not be capable of perceptually discriminating between different infant cry stimuli. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the perceptual and caregiving responses of adolescent mothers to different infant cry stimuli. Twenty-five primiparous adolescents and 39 nulliparous adolescents listened to segments of three different infant cry types that varied in the amount of high-pitched, hyperphonation contained in the acoustic structure. Participants rated their responses to the low- and high-risk cries on perceptual rating scales, and selected a caregiving behavior in response to these same cries. Analyses of Variance showed that both groups of participants perceived the infant cry segments as more arousing, annoying, distressing, loud, and sick-sounding as the amount of hyperphonation increased across cries. Results also showed that adolescent mothers did not perceive high-risk cries as more arousing, annoying, urgent, loud, and sick-sounding than adolescents who were not mothers. However, primiparous participants perceived hyperphonated and partially-hyperphonated cries as less annoying and less loud than nulliparous adolescents. This study did not find significant differences between primiparous adolescents' and nulliparous adolescents' caregiving experiences. Chi-square analyses indicated no significant differences between the participant groups' caregiving response choice frequencies to all three infant cry types.
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