This study examined the linkages between marital harmony and conflict and infants' emotional and physiological regulation abilities and developmental status at six- and nine-months of age. Participants included 93 first-time mothers and their infants (43 males, 50 females) from a Mountain West community. Mothers were asked to complete a battery of questionnaires, including a demographic measure and Braiker and Kelly's (1979) marital quality questionnaire. The revised Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID II) and Behavior Rating Scales (BRS) 2nd Edition were administered at six- and nine-months to measure infants' mental and motor development status and emotional regulation abilities. Infants' heart rate was also measured at six- and nine-months to measure their physiological regulation abilities. While correlations were found between high levels of marital conflict and infants' emotional regulation abilities at six-months, these correlations were not found at nine-months. However, this study was able to tease apart the direction of affect between marital conflict and infants' emotional and physiological regulation. Based on previous literature, it was hypothesized that marital conflict at six-months would predict infants' regulatory abilities at nine-months. However, the results from this study suggest that infant variables at six-months predict marital quality at nine-months. Specifically, infants' low emotional and physiological regulation abilities at six-months predicts higher levels of marital conflict at nine-months. Overall, these findings present a new perspective and offer new insights into the relationship between marital conflict and infants' regulation abilities. These findings have important implications for understanding the impact that infants' poorer regulation abilities can have on a marriage. Additional research is needed to further investigate the long-term consequences of infants' regulatory abilities on marital functioning and vice versa.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


Document Type





marital, harmony, conflict, infant, emotional, physiological, regulation, vagal tone, development