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Mothers and Fathers, Girls and Boys: Attachment Behavior in the First Two Years of Life

Ban, Peggy L.; Lewis, Michael; Weinraub, Marsha
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Spencer Foundation, Attachment Behavior, Bayley Mental Maturity Index, Cognitive Development, Infant Behavior, Interpersonal Relationship, Longitudinal Studies, Parent Child Relationship, Sex Differences


This longitudinal study examined the interrelationship between sex of the child and sex of the parent on the expression of attachment behaviors during the child's first two years. Special consideration was given developmental changes in the attachment structure and the relationship of attachment to cognitive development. Ten boys and 10 girls were seen at 1 and 2 years of age in a free play situation. At each age each infant first played with one parent and then a week later with the other. Attachment behavior (proximal and distal modes) was observed and found to be affected by the sex of infant and sex of parent. The Bayley Mental Maturity Index, obtained at age 2, was found to be correlated with certain patterns of attachment behavior over the first 2 years of life. These findings are discussed in terms of attachment theory and the etiology of sex differences in interpersonal relationships. (Author/SET) (42pp.)

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