Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Kere Hughes-Belding


Using a social cognition theoretical lens and based upon tenets from symbolic interactionism theory, this study explores the influence of parental social cognitions and parenting stress on the quality of the parent-infant interaction. Parenting stress, parent expectations of self in the parenting role, parent expectations of infant development, and observations of parent-infant interactions were obtained from 150 mother-infant dyads. Hierarchical linear regression analyses tested the hypothesis that parenting stress mediates the relationship between parental social cognitions and quality of the parent-infant interaction. After controlling for maternal age, parent expectations of self in the parenting role were not related to observed interaction quality, but parent expectations of infant development were related to observed interaction quality. The predicted hypothesis of mediation was not supported, however stress related to parent-child dysfunctional interaction was related to observed quality of interaction. These findings indicate a need for services focused on educating parents about developmentally appropriate expectations for infant development, as well as supporting parents in their interactions with their infants.

Copyright Owner

Melissa E. Clucas



File Format


File Size

49 pages