Term of Award

Spring 2009

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Janice Kennedy

Committee Member 1

Karen Naufel

Committee Member 2

Lawrence Locker

Abstract

Research investigating infant attachment has demonstrated the benefits of infants' secure attachment to their mothers. While Ainsworth (1973) has determined four maternal behaviors, tender holding, stimulation, contingent responding and maternal sensitivity to infant signals, that promote a secure attachment in infants, are there other behaviors a mother could perform to promote a secure attachment in her infant? Whether infant attachment classification could be predicted from maternal holding patterns was investigated in the current study. Infant attachment classification was determined by infant behavior in Ainsworth's Strange Situation Procedure. Maternal holding patterns were comprised of eight holding behaviors. Results revealed that mothers of avoidant infants held their infants at a significantly further distance away from their torsos than mothers of secure, ambivalent and disorganized infants. Additionally securely attached infants initiated holds significantly more than disorganized infants. Results are discussed in terms of applications of this research for new mothers.

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