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Infant-Mother Attachment: Factors Related to Its Development and Changes over Time

Byron Egeland and Ellen A. Farber
Child Development
Vol. 55, No. 3 (Jun., 1984), pp. 753-771
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130127
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130127
Page Count: 19
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Infant-Mother Attachment: Factors Related to Its Development and Changes over Time
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Abstract

As part of a large longitudinal study, assessments of attachment relationships in high-risk mother-infant pairs were conducted at 12 and 18 months. With data collected prenatally and during the infant's first 2 years of life, this study attempted to discriminate among 3 major attachment classifications and to account for qualitative changes in attachment relationships. The data included maternal and infant characteristics, mother-infant interactions, life-stress events, and family living arrangements. Several patterns seemed to emerge. Mothers of securely attached infants were consistently more cooperative and sensitive with their infants as observed in a feeding and play situation than mothers of anxiously attached infants. Anxious/resistant infants tended to lag behind their counterparts developmentally and were less likely to solicit responsive caretaking. Anxious/avoidant infants, although robust, tended to have mothers who had negative feelings about motherhood, were tense and irritable, and treated their infants in a perfunctory manner. Male babies were somewhat more vulnerable to qualitative differences in caretaking, while, for girls, maternal personality showed a stronger relationship to security of attachment. Changes from secure to anxious attachments were characterized by initially adequate caretaking skills but prolonged interaction with an aggressive and suspicious mother. Changes toward secure attachments tend to reflect growth and increasing competence among young mothers.

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