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Title: Examining the importance of the family on pre-school attachment and children's social development
Author: Kennedy, M.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2012
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Contemporary accounts of attachment theory are usually provided in terms of the mother-child dyad, isolated from the family. This focus has served to ostracise the caregiving context, once viewed as central to understanding child attachment quality (Bowlby, 1969/1982). While a call for more contextual attachment research has been in place for some time, there remains a lack of ecologically valid attachment research. Observations of naturally occurring family interactions were assessed using the Attachment Q-Set, the Parental Secure Base Support Q-Set, Ainsworth’s Sensitivity scale and Bales analysis. In addition, parental and nursery reports of the Teachers Checklist for Social Behaviour and the Child Behaviour Scale were collected. In doing so, the current research expands upon knowledge related to the role of mothers, fathers, family structure, siblings and the stability of attachment in the home. Study One examined the validity of measuring attachment quality in the presence of the family by establishing links between maternal attachment and both maternal sensitivity and child-peer interactions. Study Two went on to establish similar associations between paternal attachment and both paternal sensitivity and child-peer interactions. Study Three investigated differences between maternal attachment quality, mother-child interactions and child-peer interactions across three family types (those with an absent father, uninvolved father and involved father). Study Four investigated differences in sibling attachment. Study Five explored the role of the child’s context in their stability of attachment quality over six months and Study Six extended this by exploring attachment stability in a military family case study over a year. In summary, the results suggest that a focus on the mother-child dyad limits our understanding of child attachment. Centrally, rather than being a secondary caregiver, paternal attachment quality was associated with both paternal sensitivity and child-peer interactions. The thesis concludes that in order to further our understanding of attachment theory, research should incorporate the child’s natural caregiving context with other family members present.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available