Psychology Presentations

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Attachment theory proposes that maternal sensitivity is the main developmental determinant of Organized attachment relationships (Ainsworth Blehar, Waters & Wall, 1978; DeWolff & van IJzendoorn, 1997); In contrast, Disorganized attachment relationships are held to be the product of frightened, frightening or atypical maternal behaviour (Lyons-Ruth, Bronfman, & Parson, 1999; Main & Hesse, 1990).

However, recent research has identified associations between low levels of maternal sensitivity and Disorganized attachment in high-risk populations (Bernier & Meins, 2008; Moran, Forbes, Evans, Tarabulsy, & Madigan, 2008; van IJzendoorn, Scheungel & Bakermans-Kranenburg, 1999); This raises the possibility that maternal sensitivity may contribute to the development of Disorganized attachment relationships in high-risk groups.

Such findings have yet to be replicated in low-risk samples, perhaps suggesting the association between maternal interactive behaviour and the development of Disorganized attachment may differ between high-risk and low-risk populations.

To better understand differences in the origins of Disorganized relationships between high-risk and low- risk groups, it has been suggested that assessing various aspects of maternal interaction, in addition to overall sensitivity, may be beneficial (Moran et al., 2008).


Poster presentation at the International Conference on Infant Studies in Baltimore, MD in March 2010