Autobiographical memories of childhood and sources of subjectivity in parents' perceptions of infant temperament

Erika M. Manczak*, Sarah C. Mangelsdorf, Dan P. McAdams, Maria S. Wong, Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, Geoffrey L. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The current study examined whether autobiographical memories from parents' own childhoods, prebirth expectations, and personality traits contributed to their perceptions of their infants' temperament. It also investigated whether mothers and fathers differed in the extent to which these three sources of subjectivity predicted their perceptions. During the third trimester of pregnancy, expectant mothers and fathers in 96 families completed assessments of their personality traits and expectations for their children's temperament, as well as provided characteristic memories of their relationships with their own caregivers as children. Memories were then coded for themes of growth versus safety and compared to parents' ratings of perceived child temperament 15 months later. Analyses revealed that, for both parents, prebirth expectations predicted perceptions of positive temperament behaviors. Moreover, fathers who described childhoods characterized by exploration and opportunities for growth also perceived their children as displaying more positive temperamental behaviors, whereas those who described greater safety focus in memories and who had higher levels of negative affectivity reported more negative temperamental behaviors. These findings suggest that mothers' and fathers' perceptions of their children are differently related to psychological variables, including autobiographical memories. In turn, it is possible that these subjective perceptions may affect the parenting environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Autobiographical memories
  • Expectations
  • Parenting
  • Personality
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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