Psychology Publications


Naive Observers' Perceptions of Family Drawings by 7-year-olds with Disorganized Attachment Histories

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Attachment & Human Development





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Previous research has succeeded in distinguishing among drawings made by children with histories of organized attachment relationships (secure, avoidant, and resistant); however, drawings of children with histories of disorganized attachment have yet to be systematically investigated. The purpose of this study was to determine whether naive observers would respond differentially to family drawings of 7-year-olds who were classified in infancy as disorganized vs. organized. Seventy-three undergraduate students from one university and 78 from a second viewed 50 family drawings of 7-year-olds (25 by children with organized infant attachment and 25 by children with disorganized infant attachment). Participants were asked to (1) circle the emotion that best described their reaction to the drawings and (2) rate the drawings on 6 bipolar scales. Drawings from children classified as disorganized in infancy evoked positive emotion labels less often and negative emotion labels more often than those children classified as organized. Furthermore, drawings from children classified as disorganized in infancy received higher ratings on scales for disorganization, carelessness, family chaos, bizarreness, uneasiness, and dysfunction. These data indicate that naive observers are relatively successful in distinguishing selected features of drawings by children with histories of disorganized vs. organized attachment.


Published in: Attachment & Human Development, Volume 6, Issue 3 September 2004 , pages 223 - 239. doi: 10.1080/14616730412331281548