Maternal Interactions and Self-Reports Related to Attachment Classifications at 4.5 Years

Authors

  • Joan Stevenson-Hinde,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Cambridge
      Reprints may be obtained from the authors at the Medical Research Council Group on the Development and Integration of Behaviour, Madingley, Cambridge, CB3 8AA, England.
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  • Anne Shouldice

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Cambridge
      Reprints may be obtained from the authors at the Medical Research Council Group on the Development and Integration of Behaviour, Madingley, Cambridge, CB3 8AA, England.
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  • We are grateful to P. Lee for coding interactions during the laboratory task, to R. S. Marvin for reliability coding of attachment classifications and ratings, and for his, J. Cassidy's, and R. A. Hinde's constructive comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the Medical Research Council, London. In addition, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Network on the Transition from Infancy to Early Childhood provided support to participate in its Attachment Working Group meetings, at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Reprints may be obtained from the authors at the Medical Research Council Group on the Development and Integration of Behaviour, Madingley, Cambridge, CB3 8AA, England.

Abstract

Building on attachment theory and infancy research, this study examines relations between maternal style and attachment patterns in early childhood. Mothers of children classified as Secure at 4.5 years were rated higher than mothers of Insecure children on positive mood, meshing, enjoyment of child, and providing a relaxed home atmosphere. In a laboratory joint task, they had a higher frequency of monitoring, planning, and affirming and also received higher ratings for providing a sensitive framework. Compared with all other mothers, mothers of Avoidant children monitored less and planned less but reported themselves in a better light on 3 temperament scales as well as a depression scale. Mothers of Ambivalent children rated themselves as the most depressed and anxious and the least satisfied with their marriages. Their interactions at home were characterized by friction. Mothers of Controlling children rated themselves as least irritable and anxious, but in the laboratory they affirmed less, enjoyed the task less, and provided a less sensitive framework than all other mothers.

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