This proposal examines the antecedents and consequences of physiological, behavioral, and expressive behaviors of 5-month-old infants in response to blocked goals. Our previous work demonstrates that differences in the organization of these behaviors reflect approach and withdrawal emotional systems. Individual differences in approach and withdrawal emotional systems are assessed using a contingency learning procedure to measure changes in emotional expressions, behavior, and autonomic and adrenocortical responses when access to a goal is blocked. Study 1 will focus on the potential sources of individual differences in approach and withdrawal in this context. We will observe 150 infants in their homes and during pediatric well-visits to obtain detailed assessments of caregiver behavior to infant social as well as distress responses. In addition, we will obtain multiple measures of infant physiological response including infant heart rate, vagal tone, skin temperature, and cortisol responses: We hypothesize that early caregiver responsivity and physiological patterns will interact to predict the differences in approach and withdrawal emotional systems observed at 5 months. In Study 2, we will continue to follow an existing sample of 125 infants to ages 5 and 7. These children's responses to goal blockage were originally observed at 5 months. We are finding that early individual differences in approach and withdrawal emotional systems are related to preschool behavior. We will now focus on whether early individual differences in approach and withdrawal emotion at 5 months predict persistence, emotional well-being, and physical health at later ages. Balanced approach and withdrawal emotion is expected to predict positive outcomes including optimism, self-efficacy, low depression as well as other behavioral difficulties, and lower health risk. This application is relevant to public health in that it seeks to identify early emotional styles that predispose individual children toward health and adjustment or toward maladaptive responses to environmental challenge. Such markers may enable better identification of children at risk of depression, externalizing problems, as well as certain health risk profiles.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Emotion, Stress and Health Study Section (MESH)
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Zehr, Julia L
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University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Sullivan, Margaret Wolan; Carmody, Dennis P (2018) Approach-related emotion, toddlers' persistence, and negative reactions to failure. Soc Dev 27:586-600
Sullivan, Margaret W (2018) Anger, sad, and blended expressions to contingency disruption in young infants. Dev Psychobiol 60:938-949
Sullivan, Margaret Wolan (2016) Vagal tone during infant contingency learning and its disruption. Dev Psychobiol 58:366-81
Lewis, Michael; Sullivan, Margaret W; Kim, Hillary Mi-Sung (2015) Infant approach and withdrawal in response to a goal blockage: Its antecedent causes and its effect on toddler persistence. Dev Psychol 51:1553-63
Sullivan, Margaret Wolan (2014) Infant expressions in an approach/withdrawal framework. J Genet Psychol 175:472-93
Sullivan, Margaret W; Lewis, Michael (2012) Relations of Early Goal Blockage Response and Gender to Subsequent Tantrum Behavior. Infancy 17:159-178
Lewis, Michael; Takai-Kawakami, Kiyoko; Kawakami, Kiyobumi et al. (2010) Cultural Differences in Emotional Responses to Success and Failure. Int J Behav Dev 34:53-61
Crossman, Angela M; Sullivan, Margaret Wolan; Hitchcock, Daniel M et al. (2009) When frustration is repeated: behavioral and emotion responses during extinction over time. Emotion 9:92-100
Cole, Pamela M; Luby, Joan; Sullivan, Margaret W (2008) Emotions and the Development of Childhood Depression: Bridging the Gap. Child Dev Perspect 2:141-148
Lewis, Michael; Ramsay, Douglas S; Sullivan, Margaret W (2006) The relation of ANS and HPA activation to infant anger and sadness response to goal blockage. Dev Psychobiol 48:397-405

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