Fear of spoiling in at-risk African American mothers. Academic Article uri icon


  • Mothers actively ascribe intention to the behavior of infants. Mothers also tailor their responses to infant behavior based on conceptions of how each response will influence later behavior. Fears of spoiling an infant may influence a mother's pattern of responsiveness. Sixty-eight at-risk African American mothers completed questionnaires assessing depressive symptoms, self-efficacy, empathy, developmental expectations, and beliefs about spoiling. Mothers with greater concerns about the long-term impact of spoiling reported higher levels of depression, more ways in which infants could be spoiled, and inappropriate developmental expectations when compared to mothers with fewer concerns. The pattern of findings suggests ways that fear of spoiling may influence maternal responsiveness in high-risk groups and potentially lead to disturbed mother-infant relationships.

published proceedings

  • Child Psychiatry Hum Dev

author list (cited authors)

  • Smyke, A. T., Boris, N. W., & Alexander, G. M

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Smyke, Anna T||Boris, Neil W||Alexander, Gerianne M

publication date

  • June 2002