Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Developmental Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Lois Muir

Commitee Members

Lynne Koester, Meg Traci


sensitivity, attachment, mother-infant interaction, intervention


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology


The attachment relationship between a mother and her infant provides a foundation for future development (Bowlby, 1951; Sroufe, 2005). A high level of maternal sensitivity has been deemed one of the most important antecedents to a secure attachment (van IJzendoorn & Bakermans-Kranenburg, 2004). Although Mary Ainsworth originally developed a measure of maternal sensitivity other researchers developed measures to determine a mother’s level of sensitivity (Mesman & Emmen, 2013). The Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) was developed to determine the classification of the attachment relationship (Ainsworth, Bell, & Stayton, 1974). Currently these measures focus predominantly on dyads that include an infant at approximately age 12 months. Since the benefit of earlier intervention in problematic parental-infant relationships is evident (Juffer, et al., 2008), discovering ways to accurately measure parental sensitivity at earlier infant ages would be beneficial. This study is unique in that it includes infants who are 4 weeks old. The overall intent of this study is to ascertain the relationship between maternal sensitivity at 4 weeks and attachment classification at 16 months and whether the Ainsworth Maternal Sensitivity Scale (AMSS) (Ainsworth et al., 1974) is a reliable measure for assessing maternal sensitivity at the infant's age of 4 weeks and 16 months. Sixty-eight mothers were videotaped during interaction with their infant at age 4 weeks. Mothers returned with their 16 month-old infant to participate in the SSP to determine attachment security (see Ainsworth & Bell 1970). Maternal sensitivity during the SSP was also coded using the AMSS and previously reported results determined that higher levels of maternal sensitivity at that time was related to secure attachment (Muir, Koester & Yorgason, 2012). Maternal sensitivity was coded during the 4 week infant-mother interaction using the AMSS. Results showed that maternal sensitivity at 4 weeks was not correlated with the maternal sensitivity at 16 months. Maternal sensitivity at 4 weeks was not related to overall attachment classifications at 16 months but specifically deciphered subtypes of secure and disorganized attachment. Development of infant age-specific measures that predict attachment is worth future consideration.



© Copyright 2015 Laurel Anne T. Yorgason