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Exploration in the strange situation: An alternative measure for attachment security

Alves, Joseneide Lira; (1995) Exploration in the strange situation: An alternative measure for attachment security. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The present investigation was carried out on longitudinal bases in the London Parent-Child Project. It aims to investigate children's (N=89) patterns of exploration, at the age of 12 and 18 months in the presence and in the absence of their mothers and fathers, respectively, in the Strange Situation Procedure (Ainsworth et al., 1978), as an alternative measure of attachment security. The exploratory behaviour is coded in terms of the episodes in the presence and in the absence of the parents as well as after the first and the second separations from the parents. Furthermore, the present study correlates the children's levels of exploration with the children's previous classification of attachment to each parent. Overall results of exploration were analyzed taking into account the children's gender, temperament and scores of mental development (MDI), and also the parents' demographic variables, such as age, educational and socio-economic status, as well as security of attachment (AAI) and personality traits. The children's early patterns of exploration of the physical world at 12 months, in the presence and m the absence of the mother and after the separations from the mother, are associated with the children's later performance (at the age of five) in a joint story-telling task with the mother, taking into account both the mothers' and the children's security of attachment. The mother-child's co-construction of a narrative was initially coded by using the Oppenheim & Renouf Coding System (1991) and re-coded by using a newly developed system, the Exploring Parents' and Children's Strategies Coding System (Alves, 1993), which was developed as part of this thesis. Results support the notion that exploration in the Strange Situation can be used as a reliable alternative measure of attachment security. Different patterns of exploration during the experiment were shown to be related to the presence and to the absence of the parent and, furthermore, to the different ways in which the children react to the impact of the separations from the parent. The children's stable patterns of exploration across the investigations (at 12 and 18 months) were not subject to or related with the parents' security, personality trait or demographic variables. The children's patterns of exploration were related to their patterns of attachment to the parent involved in the experiment and also mediated by the children's temperament and gender. The discussion focuses first on the children's early patterns of exploration in the assessment with the mother (at 12 months) and then on the associations of these early patterns of exploration of the physical world and the children's later performance at the age of five, when co-constructing a narrative with their mothers. Associations and predictions were made depending on the children's classification of attachment with regard to specific sections of the co- construction. The results showed that securely attached children, more than avoidant children, performed better in the presence episode while the avoidant group performed better in the absence episode. Unexpectedly, though, the less the resistant group explored at 12 months, the better was its performance in the co-construction.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Exploration in the strange situation: An alternative measure for attachment security
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Exploratory behavior
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099762
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