Expressed Emotion During Pregnancy Predicts Observed Sensitivity of Mothers and Fathers in Early Childhood

Nicole Lucassen, Henning Tiemeier*, Maartje P C M Luijk, Mariëlle Linting, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. Van IJzendoorn, Vincent W V Jaddoe, Albert Hofman, Frank C. Verhulst, Mijke P. Lambregtse-Van den Berg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


SYNOPSIS: Objective. Relations between maternal and paternal expressed emotion during pregnancy and observed sensitive parenting behavior of mothers (N = 553) and fathers (N = 518) in early childhood were examined. Design. Expressed emotion, represented by emotional overinvolvement and criticism, was measured around the 34th week of gestation using an adapted version of the Five-Minute Speech Sample. Maternal and paternal sensitivity, indexed by supportiveness and intrusiveness, was observed in a semi-structured interaction between parent and child at age 4. Multilevel analyses were conducted to account for shared variance among the families. Associations between expressed emotion and sensitive parenting behavior were subsequently stratified by parent gender. Results. Emotional overinvolvement during pregnancy was associated with lower levels of sensitive parenting. More specifically, mothers’ emotional overinvolvement was related to lower levels of supportive parenting, and fathers’ overinvolvement was related to higher levels of intrusiveness. Criticism during pregnancy was not associated with dimensions of sensitivity. Conclusions. Mothers’ and fathers’ emotional overinvolvement before the birth of their child was differently related to supportive and intrusive parenting 4 years later, suggesting gender-specific effects of parental expressed emotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-165
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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