The role of spousal communication patterns on maternal sensitivity

Öztürk A. , Sayıl F. M. , Sümer N.

20th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD), Würzburg, Germany, 13 - 17 July 2008

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Würzburg
  • Country: Germany


XX. ISSBD, Würsburg, 13-17 July 2008


The Role of Spousal Communication Patterns on Maternal Sensitivity


Ahu Öztürk1, Melike Sayıl1, & Nebi Sümer2

1Hacettepe University, Turkey

2Middle East Technical University, Turkey





We aimed to explore the antecedents of maternal sensitivity which are associated with couples’ relationship dynamics.  The quality of the interaction within the family, specifically the communication patterns between the spouses are assumed to predict maternal sensitivity. A total of 45 children (mean age = 32.36 months, SD= 13.67) and their mothers (mean age= 29.22 years, SD= 5.27), with an education level equal or lower than high school, participated in the study. We assessed maternal sensitivity with the home-based observation using Maternal Behavior Q-Set (MBQS; Pederson & Moran, 1995) and mothers’ self-reported conflict communication patterns using Communication Patterns Questionnaire (Christensen, 1988).  Factor analyses on the MBQS items yielded two culture specific patterns representing responsiveness and restrictive behaviors. Regression analysis in predicting the total maternal sensitivity from the factors of communication patterns indicated that destructive communication is the only significant predictor of sensitivity after controlling for child’s age and maternal education. Separate regression analysis predicting domains of sensitivity revealed that the destructive communication predicts restrictiveness dimension of maternal sensitivity, but not the responsiveness dimension. We discussed the implications of the findings considering both the proximal family context and broader cultural environment.