College of Social & Behavioral Science

64 Physiological Responses to an Online Infant Cry Stimulus in Expectant Mothers

Shane Denherder (University of Utah); Dylan Neff (University of Utah); Joshua Marchant (University of Utah); Rose McLaughlin (University of Utah); K. Lee Raby (University of Utah); Sheila E. Crowell (University of Utah); and Elisabeth Conradt (Psychology, University of Utah)

Faculty Mentor: Elisabeth Conradt (Psychology, University of Utah)


The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges for keeping participants and research assistants safe during laboratory visits. Many researchers altered their protocols in novel ways– for example, to an online platform– to adapt to the pandemic. The present study compares the physiological effects of an online adaptation of an infant cry stimulus to the traditional laboratory-based cry task. Video and audio recordings of an infant cry are commonly used by developmental studies to evoke and measure sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system responses to this attachment-relevant stressor in pregnant women.

Measuring respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and electrodermal activity (EDA) during infant cry presentation, we analyzed a unique sample (N = 115) of pregnant women in their third trimester, half of whom observed the infant cry stimulus in the laboratory before the pandemic. Results revealed that EDA increased, and RSA decreased as expected and that setting– online

versus laboratory– had no effect on RSA or EDA responses to stimulus. These results demonstrate the ability of remote tasks to elicit an attachment-relevant stress response in pregnant women for remote data collection. Implications include the possibility of these data being collected in more ethnically and geographically diverse populations of pregnant people, including rural and marginalized populations unable to travel to large research facilities.

Note: This is the abstract from the in-progress manuscript that will be submitted to a peer-review journal. Journal requirements stipulate that submissions may not be previously published elsewhere, the abstract and references are provided for the Undergraduate Research Journal.


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RANGE: Undergraduate Research Journal Copyright © 2022 by Shane Denherder (University of Utah); Dylan Neff (University of Utah); Joshua Marchant (University of Utah); Rose McLaughlin (University of Utah); K. Lee Raby (University of Utah); Sheila E. Crowell (University of Utah); and Elisabeth Conradt (Psychology, University of Utah) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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