Friday, January 11, 2008

Mother-Child Attachment: A Correlation between Susceptibility to reactivity of infant and their corresponding rearing influences

By Sudipa Sarkar
The purpose of this review aims at finding out the correlation among the susceptibility to the reactivity of infant to their corresponding rearing influences as well as considering the significance of intervene into the rearing practice and attachment security pattern of both end.

As in Bowlby’s attachment theory assumes that the attachment behaviour of caregiver or mother promotes a child’s behaviour pattern and thus influencing the life as a whole – influencing the future close interpersonal relationship to behaviour of a child to a significant way. Apart from rearing practices, parental sensitivity, i.e., how a parent perceives the situational context as well as the signal provided by the infant also plays a crucial role in the development of a child. Hence the objective of the study involves the experiment on successful intervention in rearing practice can prevent or alter the parental sensitivity as well as parenting style to the extent by promoting secure attachment pattern over insecure rearing practice, and thus, enhancing parental attachment security through the deep-rooted behaviour modification of parents.
Methodology of Study

81 Mothers with first-born 4-months old children and having more than 8 but less than 14 years of formal education were selected. The mother’s mean age was 27.8 years. They are randomly assigned to one of three groups – (a) control group, (b) a group with written information about sensitive parenting and personal video feedback and (c) a group same as (b) with additional information about early attachment experiences.


The process started with a primary introduction and essential information about the process involved in the experiment was provided by the tester to the parents. Video observations are made in order to observe mother-child sensitive responsiveness during free play. The mothers’ insecurity style developed in her childhood was also taking into consideration for avoiding influence in the intervention process promoted. Lastly, the quality of mother-child interaction as well as mothers’ sensitive responsiveness is assessed through Strange Situation Procedure and during free play.

To gather data for conducting study the following methods have been employed.
Representation of Attachment: To measure the quality of adult’s attachment representations, two central tasks are conceptualized: (1) to produce and reflect on memories involving early relationships and (2) to maintain coherent, collaborative discourse. Data came up with 3 types of adult’s attachment representation, including, (1) secure or autonomous, showing balance in attachment experience, (2) dismissing, minimizing the significance of own attachment experience and (3) preoccupied, showing either anger or passive preoccupation with attachment figure or attachment experiences.
Sensitive Responsiveness: Sensitive responsiveness, the maternal ability to perceive child’s signal and response back promptly with accuracy, is assessed through free-play, conducted twice, one is at own place (home) and foreign place (Institute) and instructing the mother to get involved into their child’s play according to the wish of child. Hence the sensitivity is measured by using Ainsworth’s rating scale for sensitivity with a continuum of highly sensitive to highly insensitive.
Infant-mother Attachment: Infant-mother assessment is observed through Strange Situation Procedure, where an infant is exposed to a mild stressor, like stranger’s entrance and two separations from mother followed by a reunion, to identify the attachment behaviour pattern of the child, including (1) secure, (2) insecure-avoidant, (3) insecure-ambivalent and (4) disorganized, or not to be categorized.
Temperament: Temperament of the infants was assessed by the use of Dutch Translation of the Infant Behaviour Questionnaire (IBQ, Rothbert, 1981), completed by their mother. This assessment is primarily used to measure the infant’s emotional state, as Belsky (2005) suggests that the infant high in negative emotion is more susceptible to rearing influences.
Conclusion of Study

As per the study reveals that there is a significant difference is noticed after posttest between mothers’ in control group and mothers’ in intervention group. Intervention mothers showed more sensitivity than that of control mothers. Though the intervention was not that much effective in changing children’s attachment security. Only the infants of intervened mother who showed more sensitivity after posttest period become more securely attached. Otherwise, there is no significant difference as such. The variance analysis on continuous attachment security score with the intervention along with higher vs. lower reactivity, the factor for intervention is not significant, which implies that the attachment security of highly reactive child did not change more of a consequence of intervention and hence confirms that the attachment security of the highly reactive child depends on their mother’s gain of sensitiveness. This is not the case with low reactive children imparting the differential susceptibility hypothesis predicting highly reactive children are more susceptible to environmental modification than that of low reactive children.
Implication of Future Practice

Larger samples should be included in order to understand the influence of intervention and to assess individual difference on this aspect.
Development of more conclusive evidence for experimental manipulation of environment for infants who differ in emotional reactivity.
Maternal reactivity along with infants’ should be concluded in future studies to gain the internal perspective of attachment, temperament, maternal behaviour, etc
Rather stressing on IBQ, future studies should include observational method to assess the temperament of a child.

Limitations of the Study Conducted

Sampling error is present due to limited number of participants were present, resulting an inadequacy in the power of statistical analysis, especially in the context of factor analysis for significance of intervention effect.
In consideration with Rothbart’s (1981) IBQ session, mother’s perception may develop a significant bias while measuring the child’s temperament.
Assessment from AAI for finding sample created sampling bias with larger number of highly secure attachment, and thus influencing the intervention unimpressively.

Questions to the Researchers

How far do you think the statistical variance for significance of intervention being modified for larger population?
How does highly reactive child behaviour can be modified in adult stage?
Can be the maternal sensitive responsiveness identified in adult stage? How does this affect an adult’s behaviour?
To what extent, sensitive responsiveness can be modified by intervention, considering an individual’s own construe and perception about self and the world?
If a mother herself received insensitive non-responsiveness from her maternal figure, does it imply she will turn into “earned secure” person? If not, how far her attachment pattern would influence her style of attachment with her child?

Further Learning

We should consider the more detailed study of the past attachment security / experience of parental figure and hence influencing their rearing practice. Whether high reactive behaviour is learned through modeling or classical conditioning. If so, can it be unlearned too?
The status of all of these articles is sold. I am here submitting these articles in order to build my virtual portfolio. That means, it is here used for sample purpose only. The bibliography section is intentionally not provided with any of these academic articles. Please do not use any portion of these articles for any purpose. Thanks for your kind co-operation.

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