The Ambiance-Brief: An Investigation of a Novel Tool Designed to Assess Disrupted Maternal Behaviour
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Maternal sensitivity has long been associated with optimal child development, yet outcomes of studies investigating its predictive validity have been far from consistent. One explanation for this inconsistency is that sensitivity measures tend to focus on the normative range of caregiving behaviours and may not capture the extreme behaviours most likely to produce suboptimal outcomes in children (i.e. disrupted maternal behaviours). The current study examined the AMBIANCE-Brief, a tool designed to assess disrupted behaviours, in comparison to more common measures of maternal sensitivity. It was found that ratings on the AMBIANCE-Brief were only moderately correlated with sensitivity ratings, suggesting that disrupted behaviour may be a distinct construct, rather than an extreme form of insensitivity. Moreover, AMBIANCE-Brief ratings significantly predicted preschool aged childrens self-perceived cognitive competence, while the sensitivity measures did not. These results provide support for the consideration of disrupted maternal behaviour in combination with sensitivity by researchers and clinicians.