Depressive symptoms disrupt leftward cradling

  • Lea-Ann Pileggi
  • Simone Storey
  • Susan Malcolm-Smith


Objective: Leftward cradling bias is thought to facilitate optimal interaction between mother and infant. There is mixed evidence indicating this bias may be disrupted by depression. This study investigated the relationship between depressive symptoms and preferred cradling side (i.e., cradling bias) in nulliparous women.
Method: Six hundred and nineteen females, aged 18 to 25 years, were asked to imagine cradling an infant to soothe it. This instruction was given on four separate occasions. Participants also completed the Beck Depression Inventory-II. All data were collected via an online survey.
Results: As the number of depressive symptoms increased, leftward cradling decreased. Although this relationship was not statistically significant, a pattern emerged: As depressive symptoms increased, so too did the likelihood of cradling to the right. Furthermore, those scoring highest on depressive symptoms were more likely to cradle inconsistently to the left, consistently to the right, or show no bias, when compared to those scoring lower on depressive symptoms.
Conclusions: Theory suggests that leftward cradling is facilitated by right hemisphere processes involved in relating to others. A relationship between affective symptoms such as depressive symptoms and reduced leftward cradling bias supports this argument. It is argued that leftward cradling facilitates optimal interactions between cradler and infant. Consequently, disruptions of leftward cradling have implications for child development.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1728-0591
print ISSN: 1728-0583