Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Environmental Science (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

General Human Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Mardel Crandall

Committee Member

Jennifer Henk

Second Committee Member

Sara Collie

Keywords

Psychology; Education; Attachment; Caregivers; Infants; Toddlers

Abstract

A child's early attachment experiences can have a lasting impact on later development. Early attachment relationships often result in greater Social and cognitive skills, as well as better school performance (Peisner et al., 1999). For these reasons, it is important to address those components that may contribute to secure attachments with care givers in the child care setting. The current study looked at the reactions of infants and toddlers when presented with two previously unknown individuals: one who physically resembled an established caregiver with whom they had already established attachment and one who looked different from this caregiver. The study utilized a mixed method design that included parent and teacher questionnaires, as well as video recordings of the interactions between children and two new individuals. The process used for the video recordings was an adapted version of the Strange Situation developed by Mary Ainsworth and colleagues (Ainsworth & Bell, 1970). The 13 infants and toddlers who participated in the study experienced 5 sessions, which included their teacher, a session with an adult who looked similar to the teacher, and a session with a dissimilar looking adult. Findings indicated that children did display more acceptance behaviors with individuals who looked similar to a current caregiver. Data on video recording was broken into 3 categories: affect, child bids, and child response to adult bids. Paired t-tests determined that all session comparisons except for Sessions 2 and 4 for affect, and Sessions 2 and 4 for child response were statistically significant (P=.05). Cohen's Kappa was used to determine parent and teacher agreement for indicators of attachment. A moderate agreement was found for the cling/smile category (.57), and a fair agreement was found for the remaining three categories: crying (.22), following (.28), and reaching (.32).

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