Maternal attachment and sensitivity in an at-risk sample.Attach Hum Dev. 2000 Sep; 2(2):203-17.AH
This study investigated the relationship between adult attachment status and maternal sensitivity in a sample of 30 at-risk mother-child dyads. The children were 18-42 months old with an equal distribution of boys and girls that were at risk for compromised development due to a number of social, emotional and environmental factors. Using the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; George, Kaplan, & Main, 1985) it was found that only 17% of the mothers were classified as autonomous, while 83% were classified as anxious regarding attachment. Sensitivity was measured using the Emotional Availability Scales (EAS) (Biringen, Robinson, & Emde, 1993). Each mother-child pair was video-taped in their home during a 30-minute interactional sequence in which they played with a given set of toys. Only the results from the Maternal Sensitivity Scale are reported here. Mothers who were free to evaluate their attachment experiences on the AAI were most sensitive. Mothers who showed anxiety in evaluating attachment, as a group, while undoubtedly caring and concerned, were less sensitive. There was, however, wide variability within the group of mothers with anxious attachment representations, Preoccupied mothers showing the least optimal interactions.