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The interest of this study was to assess the construct of maternal responsiveness in a group of mother-infant dyads with a history of child physical abuse as compared to a group of nonabusive mothers. The sample included 30 mother-infant dyads, 15 with history of physical abuse and 15 without history of physical abuse, which were paired in relation to age and sex of children. All dyads were observed through the Data Capture System Observational SOI-I (Vite, Garcia & Rosas, 2006), in an academic condition. The results indicate that abused children were more aversive than their controls, but similar in prosocial behavior. In relation to maternal behavior, the abusive mothers displayed more aversive and instructional behavior than control mothers, but showed similar frequencies in neutral and pro-social behavior. . Also, both groups of mothers approve in a similar manner and in a low rate their children’s pro-social behavior. On the other hand, the abusive mothers were less responsive to the behavior of their children than non abusive mothers. These fi ndings represent an exploratory attempt to provide a new perspective on the process of social exchanges through which children and their mothers get involved in coercive episodes that lead to physical child abuse.
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