Affective reactivity differences in pregnant and postpartum women

Laina Rosebrock*, Denada Hoxha, Jackie Gollan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Reactions to emotional cues, termed affective reactivity, promote adaptation and survival. Shifts in affective reactivity during pregnancy and postpartum may invoke altered responses to environmental and biological changes. The development and testing of affective reactivity tasks, with published normative ratings for use in studies of affective reactivity, has been based on responses provided by healthy college students. A comparison of the healthy norms with ratings provided by peripartum women has yet to be conducted, despite its value in highlighting critical differences in affective reactivity during peripartum phases. This study compared arousal ratings of unpleasant, neutral, pleasant, and threat stimuli from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS; Lang, P.J., Bradley, M.M., Cuthbert, B.N. 2008. International Affective Picture System (IAPS): Affective Ratings of Pictures and Instruction Manual (Technical Report A-8). University of Florida, Gainseville, FL.) between three samples: (a) women measured during pregnancy and again at postpartum, (b) age-matched nonpregnant women, and (c) college-aged women from the normative sample used to test the stimuli. Using mixed-design GLMs, results showed that the pregnant and postpartum women and the age-matched women showed suppressed arousal relative to the college-age women. Additionally, postpartum women showed increased arousal to unpleasant/threat images compared to other types of images. The data suggest that future research on peripartum women should include affective reactivity tasks based on norms reflective of this specific population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 30 2015


  • Affective reactivity
  • Arousal
  • Emotional stimuli
  • Maternal
  • Perinatal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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