Monday, March 18, 2013

Secure Mother-Child Attachments Predict Good Friendships

Attachment theories say that the attachment between a child and it's parent will effect development and determine certain variables in a child's life. These variables being whether they graduate from school, spend time in jail, divorce or marry, and their overall relationship with others. 

In a study done at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, psychologist found that preschool children who are securely attached to their mothers form closer friendships in the early grade-school years for a number of reasons. According to this study, in a secure relationship, children are less likely to develop a less biased understanding of others. This study used 1,071 children from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. They assessed mother-child attachments at age 3, later how well the mothers and children communicated with each other at the age of 4 and a half and finally again in 1st grade. 

Researchers were checking children to see of they developed a hostile attribution bias. To assess this, a child was shown a series of hypothetical vignettes in which a peer did something negative to the child, although it wasn't clear if the peer did so with the intent to hurt. For example, an interviewer might say, "John throws a ball and it hits you in the back." The child was then asked why his peer had acted in that way. If a child interpreted the peer's behavior as intentional (for example, "He meant to hit me in the back"), it indicated a hostile attribution bias.

They found that children who were more open with their mothers around the age of 4, when language skills are rapidly developing, were less likely to hostile attribution bias. This is very interesting because I never considered that parental relationship would lead a child to believe that other children are or are not antagonizing them. I see that attachment can definitely influence this, but also the kind of interactions that the child is seeing rather than experiencing could also effect this.

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