Mentalization in Chilean Mothers with Children Aged 12 and 30 Months: Relation to Child Sex and Temperament and Family Socioeconomic Status

  • Carolina ÁlvarezEmail author
  • Paula Cristi
  • María Trinidad Del Real
  • Chamarrita Farkas
Original Paper



Maternal mentalization refers to a mother’s ability to consider her child as a subject with a mind and reflect this understanding through references to mental states in her speech with the child. Mentalization is relevant for a child’s attachment and theory of mind. The aim of this research is to describe mentalization among a group of Chilean mothers with their children at two time periods −12 and 30 months of age-, analyze developmental changes between both ages and examine the relationship among maternal mentalization, the child’s sex and temperament and the family socioeconomic status.


The research used a sample of 90 dyads, and the instruments utilized include a sociodemographic questionnaire, a mentalization assessment and Rothbart’s temperament questionnaires (IBQ-R-VSF and ECBQ-VSF).


The results showed a decline in references to desires and physical states and an increase in causal talk and cognitions at 30 months of age compared to 12 months. In 12-month-old children, only the temperament dimension of negative affect demonstrated a relationship with factual talk and SES related to emotions. Whereas at 30 months, the dimensions of extraversion, regulation and child’s sex related to references to desires, causal talk, emotions and physical states. The mothers’ socioeconomic status (SES) related to references to desires.


The best predictor of change in mentalization between both ages was maternal education level.


Maternal mentalization Child temperament Child’s sex Socioeconomic status Early infancy 


Author Contributions

C.A. guided the edition process of the manuscript and collaborated with the literature research. P.C. and M.T.D.R. assisted with the literature research. C.F. executed the analyses and helped with the design of the paper. The writing of the paper was a collaboration of the team.


This research was supported by grant from the Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico (FONDECYT N° 1110087 and N°1160110).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile research committee and The American Psychological Association and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology SchoolPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile

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