Assessing mother-infant bonding: reliability of the recorded interaction task

Hannah Edwards, Femke TA Buisman-Pijlman, Adrian Esterman, Craig Phillips, Larissa Smart, Sandra Orgeig, Andrea Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study examined the intra- and inter-rater reliability of the Recorded Interaction Task (RIT); a novel tool to assess mother-infant bonding via observational methods. 

Background: Mother-infant bonding describes the reciprocal early emotional connection between mother and infant. Whilst various tools exist to assess mother-infant bonding, many incorrectly confuse this construct with mother-infant attachment. Further, available tools are limited to those that employ self-report methods, thus may reflect perceived behaviour, rather than actual behaviour. The RIT is a novel tool for observational assessment of mother-infant bonding. A standard interaction between mother and infant is recorded, and later assessed against specified bonding-related behaviours. Before its use in research, reliability testing must be undertaken to ensure the RIT may be used consistently. 

Methods: The RIT was administered to 15 mother-infant dyads. Participant recordings were assessed by three trained raters at two time points, using the RIT observation scoring sheet. Intra-rater reliability was determined by comparing scores at each time point for each rater. Inter-rater reliability was determined by assessing reliability of scores at the first time point. 

Results: Strong intra-rater reliability (ICC >0.86) and fair inter-rater reliability (ICC = 0.55) were observed. 

Conclusion: The current findings support the RIT’s potential to reliably assess mother-infant bonding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-527
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date12 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • behaviour observation techniques
  • bonding behaviours
  • infant
  • mother-child relations
  • reproducibility of results


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