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Enduring and Endearing Bonds: Maternal Personality and Child Attachment

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Tara Caplin

A child's attachment to their mothers can greatly impact many areas of development, and can significantly affect many outcomes throughout the lifespan (Rees, 2007). If an individual develops insecure attachment with their primary caregivers, it has been strongly associated to decrease academic performance (Arend, 1979) and to increase the likelihood of the child engaging in risky life behaviors through adolescence (Young, 2013). There is abundant research on the influence of maternal attachment on the development of attachment with their children (van IJzendoorn & Bakermans-Kranenburg, 1997), and there are many factors that influence how children develop attachment styles. The types of interactions children have with their primary caregivers are especially important for the development of attachment. These interactions are determined by the parenting cognitions and practices which are a common formulation within parenting science, and are largely influenced by the personality of the parent (Bornstein, 2011). Attachment style development is dependent on the types of interactions the primary caregiver responds with to the infant's needs, so as the parent is more sensitive and responsive to the infant's cries the child will be more likely to develop a secure attachment style (Bowlby, 1979). Therefore, the relationship between maternal personality and child-mother attachment can help increase understanding on the development of secure attachment from children to their mothers, which is significantly related to a child's cognitive, social, and emotional development. Maternal personality is the emphasis of this study because the levels of particular personality traits that lead to a parent being more open, comforting, and increase the likelihood of the parent to be sensitive to infant cues of distress is what will influence the types of cognitions, practices and interactions that will develop the child-parent attachment style. Additionally, little is known about how maternal personality affects parent-child attachment within non-clinical participants. This study will review the literature on the development of attachment, and the effects of maternal personality traits on maternal-child attachment, and outcomes in children using the DSM-oriented scales. A target of 450 mothers with children who are three to five years old will be recruited for the Early Experience Study. Mothers will complete the Mini International Personality Item Pool (Mini-IPIP; Donnellan et al., 2006) to assess Big 5 personality traits: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, and Conscientiousness. Participants will also complete the attachment Q-Sort (Waters & Deane, 1985; Vaughn & Waters, 1990) to assess mother-child attachment, and child outcome. It is anticipated mothers with lower extraversion, lower agreeableness, higher neuroticism, and less conscientiousness will have lower rates of mother-child secure attachment. Results from this study may be an important contributor in helping to understand how maternal personality influences the early parent-child relationship which is essential to improving child health and well-being.
University / Institution: Utah Tech University
Type: Oral
Format: In Person
SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Dannelle Larsen-Rife
Location: Union Building, ROOM 312 (9:20am)