Differentiating among insecure mother-infant attachment classifications: A focus on child-friend interaction and exploration during solitary play at 36 months

Nancy L. McElwain, Martha J. Cox, Margaret R. Burchinal, Jenny Macfie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Utilizing data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care, the primary objective of the current report was to examine how avoidant and resistant mother-infant attachment classifications at 15 months were differentially associated with children's interaction with a same-sex friend and exploration during solitary play at 36 months. The added contributions of attachment security at 36 months and maternal sensitivity from 6 to 36 months to the prediction of child outcomes were also explored. As hypothesized, an avoidant attachment history was related to more instrumental aggression during child-friend interaction, whereas a resistant attachment history was associated with less self-assertion/control among friends and less attention and pretend play during exploration. Maternal sensitivity and concurrent attachment security also made unique contributions to the prediction of child outcomes at 36 months, although associations with 15-month attachment remained significant when these subsequent measures of the mother-child relationship were considered. Few differences emerged for the disorganized mother-infant attachment category in this relatively low-risk sample. Results underscore the need to differentiate between avoidant and resistant attachment groups and illustrate how early attachment history and subsequent indices of the mother-child relationship contribute to children's functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-164
Number of pages29
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Avoidance
  • Early experience
  • Exploration
  • Friendship
  • Resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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