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Preschoolers' Attention to and Memory for Attachment-Relevant Information

Steven J. Kirsh and Jude Cassidy
Child Development
Vol. 68, No. 6 (Dec., 1997), pp. 1143-1153
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1132297
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1132297
Page Count: 11
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Preschoolers' Attention to and Memory for Attachment-Relevant Information
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Abstract

This study examined the relation between attachment quality in infancy and attention and memory at 3½ years. Sixty-eight children participated in 2 attention tasks and 1 memory task. In the first attention task, children were shown several sets of drawings; each set depicted a different mother-child dyad engaged in positive, negative, and neutral interaction. Insecure/avoidant children looked away from the drawings more than the other children. In the second attention task, children were shown different sets of drawings; each set depicted a mother-child dyad engaged in positive interaction and an adult dyad expressing neutral affect. Insecure/avoidant and insecure/ambivalent children looked away from the mother-child drawings more than the secure children; when children did look at a drawing, insecure children were less likely than secure children to look at the mother-child drawing. In the memory task, children were read 6 stories in which a mother responds to her child's bid for help. In 2 stories the mother responds sensitively to her child, in 2 stories the mother rejects her child, and in 2 stories the mother provides an exaggerated response to her child. Secure children recalled the responsive stories better than insecure/avoidant children and the rejecting stories better than the insecure/ambivalent children. Findings are discussed in terms of the proposition from attachment theory that attachment experiences influence attention and memory processes.

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