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Linking Employment to Attachment: The Mediating Effects of Maternal Separation Anxiety and Interactive Behavior

Cynthia A. Stifter, Colleen M. Coulehan and Margaret Fish
Child Development
Vol. 64, No. 5 (Oct., 1993), pp. 1451-1460
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131545
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131545
Page Count: 10
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Linking Employment to Attachment: The Mediating Effects of Maternal Separation Anxiety and Interactive Behavior
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Abstract

This study examined the effects of maternal employment and separation anxiety on maternal interactive behavior and infant attachment. 73 mother-infant pairs participated in a laboratory free-play session when infants were 5 and 10 months of age and in the Strange Situation when the infants were 18 months of age. Maternal feelings about being separated from her infant were assessed by questionnaire at 5 months. Employed mothers returned to work before the infants' fifth month, and nonemployed mothers did not work outside the home through their infants' tenth month. Employed mothers who reported high levels of separation anxiety were more likely to exhibit intrusive behaviors at 10 months. While employment was not directly related to attachment, we found infants of high-anxiety employed mothers to develop anxious-avoidant attachments. The results suggest that maternal separation anxiety and interactive style may be important mediators between employment and later infant outcome.

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