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Title: Does maternal reflective functioning relate to emotional availability in mother-infant interactions?
Author: Gale, J.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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This volume is divided into three parts. Part 1 presents a review of the literature regarding the predictive validity of the Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan & Main, 1985) since van IJzendoorn's (1995) meta-analysis on the subject. The review replicates van Ijzendoorn's, confirming the prediction of infant attachment by the AAI and to a lesser extent maternal behaviour. The literature reviewed highlights a move in research since 1995, away from focusing exclusively on maternal sensitivity in understanding the transmission of attachment from parent to child, to consider other potential mediators and moderators of attachment transmission. Part 2 presents an empirical paper investigating the relationship between maternal reflective functioning and emotional availability in two high-risk samples of mothers and their infants. The samples were drawn from two projects investigating the effectiveness of clinical interventions, one in a community sample and the other in a prison population. Two research psychologists undertook data collection (M.S. & J.N.), whilst the author (J.G.) undertook the majority of data coding. One of the research psychologists plans to submit a PhD thesis (M. Sleed 2009) based on some of the data used in the current empirical paper. An association was found between maternal reflective functioning and emotional availability in the prison sample but not the community sample. However, reflective functioning could account for some of the variance in emotional availability identified between the two samples. Within the community sample, associations between emotional availability and parenting stress as well as emotional availability and aspects of maternal psychopathology were identified. Maternal IQ, which has been neglected in past research regarding maternal representations and mother-infant interaction, was found to be strongly associated with maternal representations and emotional availability. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed. Part 3 contains a critical analysis of the research process. Methodological choices are discussed and building on the discussion contained within the empirical paper, the clinical implications and directions for research are expanded upon. Part 3 ends with some personal reflections on the research conducted.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available