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Alternative pathways between parenting, attachment and children's functioning: First test of a model integrating parenting research and attachment theory within a biopsychosocial framework

Slaughter, Jeremy; (2000) Alternative pathways between parenting, attachment and children's functioning: First test of a model integrating parenting research and attachment theory within a biopsychosocial framework. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Research from the perspectives of parenting and attachment theory was reviewed and integrated within a biopsychosocial perspective. A framework was described showing several alternative links from received parenting, through attachment style and other cognitive attributes, to children's social functioning and reproductive fitness. This yielded four alternative views of attachment's role in childhood; "redundant", "restricted", "replaceable", or "integrated". The four views were tested with 70 12 to 13-year-olds at an inner-city state school, using child-report questionnaires of parenting and mediating variables, the Middle Childhood Attachment Interview, teacher ratings of strengths and difficulties, and disciplinary records. Results suggested that attachment was not "redundant", because 66% of its variance was unexplained by parenting and it predicted an extra 3% of prosocial behaviour. Nor was attachment's role "restricted" to modulating parental sensitivity to immediate threat, as it was strongly associated with parental control, but not parental warmth. Attachment could not be "integrated" into Baumrind's model of parenting, nor could attachment classifications be mapped onto parenting styles, because of the lack of association between attachment and parental warmth. However, a parental "demandingness" factor predicted attachment security- in 94% of cases, and attachment classification in 70% of cases. The results favoured the view that associations beween attachment and children's functioning are largely "replaceable" by direct associations with parenting. Associations between parenting and attachment appeared to reflect the importance of longer term rather than immediate security, for the benefit of school as well as core relationships. The novel association of attachment with parental control also suggests that attachment security requires inhibitory and corrective parenting, not just sensitively-responsive parenting which allows the child's natural capacities to unfold. This suggestion in turn allows parenting to be seen as a means, and attachment as a goal, of training the innate behavioural inhibition and approach systems described by Gray and McNaughton (2000) in "The Neuropsychology of Anxiety" to reconcile the goals of security and exploration described by Ainsworth (1982).

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Alternative pathways between parenting, attachment and children's functioning: First test of a model integrating parenting research and attachment theory within a biopsychosocial framework
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Attachment style
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099467
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