Associations among attachment classifications of mothers, fathers, and their infants

Child Dev. 1996 Apr;67(2):541-55.


Associations are reported among classifications of Adult Attachment Interviews (AAIs) obtained from expectant parents and subsequent classifications of their infants in the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP). Mothers' AAIs predicted infant-mother SSPs (chi 2 = 41.87, N = 96, df = 9, p < or = .0001), and fathers' AAIs predicted infant-father SSPs (chi 2 = 18.94, N = 90, df = 6, p < or = .005). Associations between parents' AAIs and infant-parent SSPs were lessened by the failure to predict the insecure-resistant pattern with mother and the absence of this pattern with father. Counter to expectation, infant-father SSPs were associated with infant-mother SSPs (chi 2 = 3.78, N = 90, df = 1, p < or = .05), which could not be accounted for in terms of an overlap between parental AAIs. A secondary analysis of the data suggested that this dependency effect of SSPs may be explained by the influence of maternal AAIs upon child-father SSPs. Results are discussed in terms of intergenerational and relationship-specific influences upon attachment during infancy, the possible influence of infant temperament, and the relative influence of mother and father upon the child's evolving representations of attachments within the family.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intergenerational Relations
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychology, Child / classification*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperament