Heart rate correlates of attachment status in young mothers and their infants.J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2005 May; 44(5):470-6.JA
To explore heart rate (HR) correlates of attachment behavior in young mothers and their infants to generate specific hypotheses and to provide pilot data on which studies to test those hypotheses might be based.
Using the strange situation procedure, patterns of attachment were assessed in 41 low-income adolescent mothers and their infants. During the procedure, the HRs of the infants and mothers were recorded. The HR changes were analyzed and infant attachment group differences were examined.
Infants in all attachment groups demonstrated a similar HR response. There were, however, notably different behavioral reactions in the insecure groups: relatively increased behavioral distress in the insecure/resistant infants and relatively decreased behavioral distress in insecure-avoidant infants. Mothers of insecure-resistant infants demonstrated elevated HRs during reunions and the insecure/resistant dyads demonstrated lower consistency between HR changes in infant and mother than the secure dyads.
The results suggest the discrepancy between attachment-related behavioral reactions and HR response in insecurely attached infants. Maternal and dyadic HR changes vary between the attachment groups.