ATTACHMENT RESEARCH

Third Party Funding: JF 2009-827 (Jacobsfoundation); 330,000.00 €

Research Spot 1: Multiple Attachments

Based on huge samples on attachment from our own past research, we explore the intra- as well as intercultural variability and stability of the attachment construct in both the multiple care arrangements for children throughout the preschool years, including out-of home care in Germany and Austria, and the multiple care arrangements among two Bantu groups, the Chewa and the Yao, in rural Southern Malawi. We are interested in the question as to what extent mother-child attachments may vary according to the social structure in which they are embedded and supported (intercultural variations), as well as in the proposition on similar features of attachments that a child develops with maternal and non-maternal caregivers at the same time (intracultural variations).

Associates: Lieselotte Ahnert, Tina Eckstein-Madry, Bernhard Piskernik, and Sabrina Leodolter

Research Spot 2: Attachment in Children who are Born Preterm

Preterm children are described as vulnerable; therefore the parenting of mothers and fathers of these children may differ from parents with full-term children, which in turn, may cause systematic differences in the formation of attachments. Because current research has delivered controversial results, and less research is available on the nature of the father-child relationship for preterms, we compare and contrast the differences of parent-child attachments in families with preterm and full-term infants. Here, we include mothers and fathers in the analyses and also focus on certain child characteristics beside prematurity, such as sex, twin status, developmental status, and arousal and emotional regulation.

Associates: Nina Ruiz, Andrea Witting, Bernhard Piskernik, Renate Fuiko and Lieselotte Ahnert

Research Spot 3: Attachment Measures: Methodological Considerations

Traditionally, attachment assessments have been developed for mother-child dyads only, and are exclusively validated for them. The question therefore is whether the assessments used worldwide, “Strange Situation” and “Attachment-Q-Sort”, are applicable to fathers or other non-maternal attachment figures in children’s lives. Using strategies which alter the exploration and validation of the measure on huge attachment data sets , or apply decision trees, we test measurement, metric and scalar invariance of the attachment construct in order to justify the application of the “Strange Situation” or the “Attachment-Q-Sort” for caregivers other than the mother.

Associates: Bernhard Piskernik, and Lieselotte Ahnert