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Early Attachment and Later Development Thompson, R. A. (1999). Early attachment and later development. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of.

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Presentation on theme: "Early Attachment and Later Development Thompson, R. A. (1999). Early attachment and later development. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Early Attachment and Later Development Thompson, R. A. (1999). Early attachment and later development. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp ). New York: Guilford Press.

2 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Research on the Influence of Attachment on Later Outcomes  parent-child relations;  relations with peers, friends, and siblings;  behavior with unfamiliar adults;  competence in preschool and kindergarten;  exploration and play;  intelligence and language ability;  ego resilience and ego control;  frustration tolerance;  curiousity;  self-recognition;  social cognition;  behavioral problems and other indicators of psychopathology;  “and many other variables” (Thompson, 1999, p. 265).

3 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Research Methods used to Study Attachment & Preview of Findings  Longitudinal follow-up studies have been conducted for periods from months to decades.  Measurement has included  self report;  reports from parents, teachers, and peers;  standardized testing;  “and a variety of other assessments” (Thompson, 1999, p. 265).  General Preview of Research Findings about Consequence of Attachment:  Relationships are multi-influential.  Outcomes are multidetermined.  Continuity is complex and multifaceted.

4 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Internal Working Models  Experiences with caregivers influences expectations about future relationships.  Working models seem to be “based on a network of developing representations that emerge successively but interactively with age (from Thompson, 1998). There seem to be four interrelated representational systems that are both conscious and unconscious:  Social expectations about caregivers that are developed during the first year that are subsequently elaborated.  Event representations: beginning in the third year general and specific memories about attachment experiences are stored.  Beginning at age four, individuals begin to create their own narratives and self- understandings about self and relationships.  Beginning in the third and fourth years, the individual begins to form conclusions about characteristics of others and relationship expectations.

5 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Significance of Developmental Processes on Attachment  Earliest representations provide important information about caregiver responsiveness, but the representations are fairly simplistic and “they probably do not provide the conceptual foundation for the sophisticated and complex representations of self and relationships in other years” (Thompson, 1999, pp ).  Working models are continuously revised and updated throughout development  “[T]heir impact on a child’s psychosocial functioning at any particular age may depend on the security of the representations that are developed at that particular time” (Thompson, 1999, p. 268).  “[D]ifferent facets of working models (e.g., social expectations, autobiographical memory) have not only different developmental timetables but perhaps also different periods of critical influence.

6 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Significance of Developmental Processes on Attachment (cont.)  Caregivers not only influence attachment by the quality of care they provide but also by the interpretation of that care because their interpretation may be adopted by the child.  Thompson concludes that, for these reasons, it is important to consider working models in a developmental context in order to understand them as a source of developmental continutiy.

7 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Ontogenetic Adaptations  Assumption: attachment is adaptive.  Hypothesis: insecure forms of attachment are functional for the particular context that a child experiences (e.g., resistant attachment that develops because of inadequate caregiving may promote greater self-reliance).

8 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Emergent Personality and Social Skills  Attachment has the potential to shape aspects of developing personality/identity.  Attachment is expected to influence  sociability,  emotional predispositions,  curiosity,  self-esteem,  independence,  cooperation,  trust.

9 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Reasons for Developmental Discontinuity or “It Depends”  Juvenile Adaptations  Consistency and Change in Parent-Child Relationships  Multidetermined and Differentiated Outcomes

10 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Empirical Perspectives  Parent-Child Relationship  Findings are inconsistent about the influence of early attachment on quality of parent-child relationships at a later date.  Inconsistent findings suggest “considerable flexibility in the interactive harmony of parent- child relationships"”(Thompson, 1999, p. 275).  Other Close Relationships  Attachment relationships seem to be associated with sociability during the same age period.  Influence of attachment on later sociability is mixed.  Encounters with Unfamiliar Partners  Children often behave with other adults in a manner similar to the way they behave with their own caregivers.  Interactions with peers does not seem to be based on behaviors with parents.

11 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson Empirical Perspectives (cont.)  Personality  Research findings are inconsistent.  Inconsistency is probably related to problems in measurement as well as the multi- determined nature of the influence of attachment.  Representations of Self, Others, and Relationships  Research suggests that early attachment does influence representations of self and others.

12 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson The Lessons of Early Relationships  There seems to be a “modest” relationship between early attachment and later outcomes.  Influence of attachment seems to be “more contingent and provisional than earlier expected” (Thompson, 1999, p. 280).  Intervening events seem to moderate influence of attachment.  Thompson reminds us that attachment is only one dimension of the parent-child relationship. He noted that Bowlby recognized this as well.


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