Quality of attachment, joint attention, and language development
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
First Committee Member
Peter Mundy, Committee Chair
This study examined the associations among attachment, joint attention, and language in normally developing children. Participants were 70 infants and their parents. Infants came from college-educated, middle-class families; over 40% were learning two languages, typically English and Spanish.When infants were 15 months old, they took part in a laboratory visit during which several assessments were administered. Cognitive development was assessed with the Mental Scale of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development - Second Edition; patterns of attachment were assessed with Ainsworth's Strange Situation; and children's tendency to initiate joint attention with an examiner was assessed with the Early Social-Communication Scales. Parents completed the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory when infants were 15 and 18 months old.Hypotheses focused on 18-month vocabulary size as the main language outcome. Associations between attachment and 18-month vocabulary, between frequency of initiating joint attention and 18-month vocabulary, and between attachment and frequency of initiating joint attention were not observed. However, exploratory analyses revealed associations between attachment and other aspects of language use. According to their parents, children with secure patterns of attachment were significantly more likely to refer to absent objects, compared with children with insecure patterns of attachment. Children with secure patterns of attachment also produced significantly longer utterances, compared with children with insecure patterns of attachment; this association remained significant after controlling for prior language.Exploratory analyses also revealed associations between joint attention and language. When monolingual Spanish learners were excluded, children with greater rates of initiating joint attention had significantly larger 18-month vocabularies. Children with greater rates of initiating joint attention also had significantly higher scores on the Bayley Mental Development Index, as well as on a subset of Bayley language items. These associations remained significant even after controlling for concurrent language.Additional exploratory analyses revealed that children with secure patterns of attachment may have been more likely to engage in high level joint attention behaviors, such as pointing and showing. However, this trend failed to reach conventional levels of statistical significance.Discussion addressed the possibility that various methodological issues may influence the associations among attachment, joint attention, and language.
Psychology, Developmental; Psychology, Cognitive
Schwartz, Heidi Kern, "Quality of attachment, joint attention, and language development" (1999). Dissertations from ProQuest. 3776.