Child Temperament Moderates Effects of Parent–Child Mutuality on Self-Regulation: A Relationship-Based Path for Emotionally Negative Infants


  • This research has been funded by grants from NIMH, R01 MH63096 and K02 MH01446, NICHD, R01 HD069171, and Stuit Professorship to Grazyna Kochanska. We thank many students and staff members for their help with data collection and coding, and the participants in Family Study for their commitment to this research.

concerning this article should be addressed to Sanghag Kim, Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined infants’ negative emotionality as moderating the effect of parent–child mutually responsive orientation (MRO) on children’s self-regulation (= 102). Negative emotionality was observed in anger-eliciting episodes and in interactions with parents at 7 months. MRO was coded in naturalistic interactions at 15 months. Self-regulation was measured at 25 months in effortful control battery and as self-regulated compliance to parental requests and prohibitions. Negative emotionality moderated the effects of mother–child, but not father–child, MRO. Highly negative infants were less self-regulated when they were in unresponsive relationships (low MRO), but more self-regulated when in responsive relationships (high MRO). For infants not prone to negative emotionality, there was no link between MRO and self-regulation. The “regions of significance” analysis supported the differential susceptibility model not the diathesis–stress model.