Reward Responsivity in Parenting: Development of a Novel Measure in Mothers of Young Children

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The purpose of the current study was to develop and evaluate a measure of maternal reward responsivity in parenting. Deficits in reward responsivity, a common feature of depression, may contribute to maladaptive parenting behaviors. Reward responsivity is an individual difference in reactivity to pleasurable stimuli and represents a key motivational component that could contribute to the frequency and quality of mothers’ interactions with their infants. However, there is currently no measure of reward responsivity in parenting, which would be necessary to evaluate the link between mother reward responsivity, behaviors towards their infant, and infant behavior. Therefore, the current study reports on the development and initial evaluation of a self-report measure of reward responsivity in parenting, the Mother Inventory of Reward Experience (MIRE). We evaluated the MIRE among 200 mothers (M = 28.45, SD = 5.50) recruited from a pediatric primary care center. After item analysis, 22 items were retained and displayed high internal consistency reliability and test re-test reliability. Convergent validity was established via a significant correlation with global reward responsivity. Concurrent validity was established via significant correlations with depressive symptoms, parenting stress, and child behavior problems. Incremental validity of the MIRE over a measure of global reward responsivity was supported. These results support the reliability and validity of the MIRE as a measure of reward responsivity in parenting.