Year of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Developmental Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Lois Muir

Commitee Members

Tom Seekins, Dan Denis, Rachel Severson, Martin Blair


University of Montana


Disorganized attachment is the most detrimental attachment classification in infancy (Hesse & Main, 2000; Lecompte & Moss, 2014). Therefore, exploring early predictors of disorganized attachment will aid prevention and intervention efforts. Previous research efforts have focused on high-risk caregiver-infant dyads that include older infants (12-24 months) to delineate predictors of disorganized attachment. Several predictors have been determined (e.g., maltreatment, poverty, trauma, caregiver frightening behaviors, caregiver unresolved loss or trauma, violence). However, a disturbing number of dyads (15-18%) are classified as having a disorganized attachment relationship and do not appear to experience these high-risk circumstances or behaviors. Discovering predictors in low-risk samples at earlier stages (third trimester of pregnancy and at 4 weeks post birth) in the development of the attachment relationship is the pursuit of this study. Based on a review of the literature, the following constructs were evaluated among dyads classified as secure and disorganized: maternal expectations, spousal support, and maternal negativity. A significant difference between these groups was found for the spousal support construct, particularly in combination with violation of expected support. Due to the small sample size of the disorganized group, effect sizes may be more meaningful to interpret and these results support further investigation of all three constructs.

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