International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 14 Num. 2 - June 2014


Attachment Security: The Role of Infant, Maternal, and Contextual Factors

Volume 14 Num. 2 - June 2014 - Pages 261-276


Maria A. Gartstein , Sydney Iverson


Infant temperament, parenting factors, and aspects of mother-infant interactions have all been demonstrated to influence the early attachment relationship. It has been suggested since attachment is multiply determined, these factors should be evaluated cumulatively as predictors of attachment security. This study examined contributions of child and parent characteristics to infant attachment security. We hypothesized that infant Negative Emotionality (NE) would be linked with attachment security, and that this relationship would be mediated by maternal parenting efficacy and sensitivity in mother-infant interactions. Associations between Positive Affectivity/Surgency (PAS), Orienting/Regulatory Capacity (ORC), and attachment security were also explored. Study design: Longitudinal study including laboratory observation of mother-infant dyads and parent completion of questionnaires. Subjects: 47 mother-infant dyads (26 female infants, 21 male infants) participated in laboratory assessment and questionnaires when the infants were 4 months of age, then provided attachment information at 12 months of age. Attachment security, measured with the abbreviated Attachment Q-Set (AQS). Significant correlations emerged for associations between attachment security, maternal parenting efficacy and sensitivity, but not infant NE. Higher levels of maternal sensitivity and fewer problems with maternal efficacy were associated with more secure attachment. PAS and ORC were both significantly correlated with attachment security at 12 months of age, with higher levels of these infant attributes leading to more secure attachment. Although the proposed mediational model was not supported, these findings suggest the importance of infant temperament and parenting/contextual factors in explaining attachment security, as well as need for their simultaneous consideration.

Key words:

infant attachment, negative emotionality, positive affectivity/surgency, orienting/regulatory capacity, maternal sensitivity, maternal parenting efficacy

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