Attachment is the bond that links humans to vital people in their lives. This bond begins to develop early on in life. According to Berk (2012), infants can become attached to regular people in their lives before the second half of their first year of life. These early attachments are normally to the primary caregivers of the infant.
An infant with an attachment disorder is an infant who is unable to connect with his or her caregiver. This can also be called insecure attachment, meaning that the infant is indifferent or opposed to the affections of his or her caregiver. Reactive attachment disorder, or RAD, is a common attachment disorder that causes an ...view middle of the document...
Mothers reported depressive symptoms during each home visit at each of the aforementioned ages. At six and fifteen months of age, mother-child interactions were observed in the home. At twenty-four and thirty-six months, these interactions were observed in a laboratory. At thirty-six months, attachment security was measured using a modified Ainsworth strange situation. This study showed that maternal depression may predict higher rates of insecure attachment. A flaw found in this study revealed that depressive symptoms were assessed only by self-report, not diagnostic interviews used to conclude whether the women met criteria for clinical depression.
A similar study was conducted in the UK in 1992 comparing attachment in 18-month-old infants with depressed and non-depressed caregivers (Gaffan & Martins, 2000). The Ainsworth strange situation procedure was used to evaluate the quality of the attachment between the infants and caregivers. Results of this study showed that out of 56 infants with depressed caregivers, just 37% were securely attached. Of the infants with non-depressed caregivers, 76% were attached to their caregivers. These results illustrate a lower percentage of infants with secure attachments to its caregivers.
Teti, Gelfand, Messinger & Isabella (1995) performed a study to assess relations between maternal depression and attachment security over the course of two years. This report included two groups; 54 preschool child-mother and 50 infant-mother pairs. The system used to assess each child’s security was the Ainsworth strange system for the infants and the Preschool Assessment of Attachment for preschoolers. During the first year, researchers came three times in one month and judged the stress level of the caregiver with the use of an interview and observation of mother-child interaction. The process was the repeated a year later. The first year study showed a 70% percent attachment to non-depressed caregivers and a 20% attachment to depressed caregivers. The second year, the results only became more extreme with only 13% of the infants becoming securely attached to depressed caregivers. This study indicates that infants with depressed caregivers have lower occurrences of secure attachment than those with non-depressed caregivers.
This study has multiple limitations. First, the sample was almost completely Caucasian. Thus, the results may not be able to be generalized. External validity can also be called into question because most of the sample was Mormon. Another reason to be cautious when generalizing these findings is due to attrition, a common issue in longitudinal studies. The diagnoses of the mothers’ depression were obtained from their therapists and not verified by researchers, causing a lack of consistent diagnostic evidence. Finally, this study’s results are based solely on correlation, not causation.
Research has also been done to determine whether there is a...