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Exploring the foundations of attachment: relations between mother-infant interaction at 4-5 months and attachment security at 12 months

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Thesis type
(Dissertation) Ph.D.
Date created
Similarities between the Still Face procedure in early infancy and the Strange Situation at one year have been noted by a number of researchers. To date, however, few studies have investigated whether mother and infant behaviour in the Still Face procedure is predictive of later attachment security. The present study tested three hypotheses with respect to relations between mother and infant behaviour in a Still Face procedure at 4-5 months and attachment security at 12 months. In an initial lab visit at 4-5 months mothers were asked to interact with their infants for 2 minutes (Interactive phase), remain still-faced for 1 minute (Still Face phase), and resume interaction for 2 minutes (Reengagement phase). Mother and infant behaviour was assessed for the frequency and contingency of mother and infant smiles during the Interactive and Reengagement phases and infant social bids to the mother during the Still Face phase. In a follow-up lab visit at 12 months, infants’ security of attachment to their mothers was assessed in the Strange Situation. Contrary to expectations, maternal contingent responsiveness to infant behaviour in either the initial Interactive phase or the Reengagement phase of the Still Face procedure was not correlated with attachment security at 12 months. Similarly, and in contrast to previously published findings, no correlation was found between infant social bids to their mothers during the Still Face phase and later attachment security. In an exploratory analysis of the Still Face procedure data, a number of correlations were found among mother and infant behaviour across phases of the Still Face procedure with respect to the timing and frequency of infant social behaviour in the Reengagement phase. These findings are discussed in relation to theory and previously published research. Suggestions for future research are also discussed.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Carpendale, Jeremy
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