Effects of Affectionate Motherhood
by KYW’s Dr. Marciene Mattleman
Recent findings involving 482 participants provided interesting information on the connection between maternal affection for infants with their later health. Most studies of this type ask adults to rely on their memories.
In this research, psychologists rated mothers’ level of affection in the 1960s when participants were 8 months old. The study revealed that 85% of the participants’ mothers displayed normal levels of affection; 10% had shown low affection and the 5% had highly affectionate mothers.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, in 1990 when the participants were approximately 34 years old, researchers used a questionnaire to gauge participants’ psychological health. Fourteen percent of those who had highly affectionate mothers as infants reported being less anxious and 9% felt less generally distressed than their peers.
While the data are interesting, it’s a shame that research is often very narrow. If researchers had looked at mothers who cuddled their kids affectionately while reading to them often, the findings might have shown healthy people who were good readers as well in later life.