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Abstract

This research examined factors contributing to infant attachment security such as stressful events, maternal depression, negative parent–infant interactions, and spanking. The sample included 169 mostly European American mothers and infants who were qualified applicants to Early Head Start. Interview and self-report measures of contextual stress, mothers' depressive symptoms, mother–infant negative interactions, and discipline strategies were administered by trained researchers when infants were 14 months old. In addition, mothers' completed the Attachment Q-set (AQS, version 3.0, Waters, 1987). Infant security was lower when maternal depression was higher, when mothers were more dissatisfied in their interactions with infants, and when these infants were spanked more frequently. A path model was constructed to examine the direct and indirect paths from predictor variables to infant attachment security. Maternal depression, negative interactions, and spanking directly affected infant attachment security. Economic stress and relationship stress directly affected maternal depression and frequency of spanking, thereby indirectly influencing infant attachment security. These findings suggest that understanding the influences on infant attachment security is essential for effective early prevention and intervention that promote optimal development. ©2002 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health.