The effects of maternal working models on the quality of mother-infant attachment behavior

Deborah Jean Devine (1988)

This study sought, in a preliminary manner, to examine the possible effects of a mother's early attachment relationship with her parents on the attachment behavior exhibited by the mother and her first born infant. This research is based on Bowlby's attachment theory which suggest that there are subjective elements which effect the way in which a mother forms an attachment relationship to her infant. The consideration of a working or representational model has provided a way to study the internal dynamics of an infant and mother's attachment as well as the intergenerational transmission of this early dyadic experience. Nineteen mother/infant dyads were participants in this study. All infants were first born, and ranged in age from four to seven months. The attachment behavior of these dyads was assessed using the Massie-Campbell Attachment Scale. The mothers completed the Mother-Father-Peer Scale, a measure designed to elicit memories of former attachment relationships with the respondent's parents. It is assumed that maternal recollections of past relationships are an integral part of her present working model of attachment. Effects of the mother's memories of early relationships and her attachment with her infant were analyzed using principal components analysis and canonical correlation procedures. Results from this study indicate that there is a significant relationship between a mother's recollections of childhood attachment relationships with her parents and the attachment behavior exhibited by her and her infant. Specific recollections regarding parental acceptance, comfort, overprotection and negative responsiveness were related to certain mother and infant behaviors believed to be critical in the formation of an attachment relationship.