File Record

Data file for Mother-infant contagion study

Psyc Sci Contagion datafile.sav (6.7KB)

January 23, 2014 (11:43 am EST)

This file contains all the data collected and used in the article:
Waters, S. F., West, T., & Mendes, W. B. (in press). Stress contagion: Physiological covariation between mothers and babies. Psychological Science.


Stress contagion: Physiological covariation between mothers and babies

Wendy Berry Mendes, UC San Francisco

Numeric/quantitative (rating scales, checkboxes, etc.)


Multi-State Area, United States

August 1, 2012, throughFebruary 1, 2013

Laboratory experiment

Nonrandom sample

Approved by IRB or ethics board

  • Psychology
    • Developmental psychology
    • Psychophysiology
    • Social psychology

Emotions, thoughts and intentions are not simply concepts that live privately in our minds, but rather affective states emanate from us and may influence those around us. We explored affect contagion in the context of one of the closest dyadic units, mother and infant. We initially separated mothers and infants and randomly assigned mothers to experience either a: 1) stressful positive-evaluation task; 2) stressful negative-evaluation task; or 3) non-stressful control task, and then reunited mothers and infants. Three notable findings were observed: 1) Infants’ physiological reactivity mirrored mothers’ reactivity engendered by the stress manipulation; 2) Infants whose mothers experienced social-evaluation compared to the control condition showed more avoidance towards strangers; 3) Following negative-evaluation, dyads exhibited greater physiological covariation, which increased over time. These findings suggest that mothers’ stressful experiences are contagious to their infants and that close pairs, like mothers and babies, can reciprocally influence each other’s dynamic physiological reactivity.

Stress, developmental, affective, contagion, physiological reactivity