Observational attachment theory-based parenting measures predict children's attachment narratives independently from social learning theory-based measures

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Abstract

Conceptually and methodologically distinct models exist for assessing quality of parent–child relationships, but few studies contrast competing models or assess their overlap in predicting developmental outcomes. Using observational methodology, the current study examined the distinctiveness of attachment theory-based and social learning theory-based measures of parenting in predicting two key measures of child adjustment: security of attachment narratives and social acceptance in peer nominations. A total of 113 5–6-year-old children from ethnically diverse families participated. Parent–child relationships were rated using standard paradigms. Measures derived from attachment theory included sensitive responding and mutuality; measures derived from social learning theory included positive attending, directives, and criticism. Child outcomes were independently-rated attachment narrative representations and peer nominations. Results indicated that Attachment theory-based and Social Learning theory-based measures were modestly correlated; nonetheless, parent–child mutuality predicted secure child attachment narratives independently of social learning theory-based measures; in contrast, criticism predicted peer-nominated fighting independently of attachment theory-based measures. In young children, there is some evidence that attachment theory-based measures may be particularly predictive of attachment narratives; however, no single model of measuring parent–child relationships is likely to best predict multiple developmental outcomes. Assessment in research and applied settings may benefit from integration of different theoretical and methodological paradigms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-92
Number of pages16
JournalATTACHMENT AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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