Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Daniel S. Messinger

Second Committee Member

Shannon K. de l'Etoile

Third Committee Member

Daryl B. Greenfield

Fourth Committee Member

Michael Alessandri

Fifth Committee Member

Alexandra Quittner - Committee Member


Thirty-two infants and their parents were observed at 6 months in the Face-to-Face/Still-Face (FFSF) paradigm. Attachment security was assessed in the Strange Situation Paradigm (SSP) at 15 months. Eighteen of these infants had an older sibling with a clinically diagnosed ASD (ASD-siblings) and 14 had older siblings with no ASD (comparison-siblings). Results suggested that at fifteen months, before diagnostic outcomes are available, ASD-sibs are no more likely to evidence insecurity in attachment, or attachment disorganization, than are COMP-sibs. Additionally, 15-month secure and insecure infants differed with respect to 6-month gazing at their parent's face during the still-face (SF) and reunion (RE) episodes as well as the amount they were tickled by their parent in the RE episode. Parent tickling in the RE episode appeared to be differentially associated with later attachment security between ASD and COMP-sibs. For COMP-sibs insecurity in attachment at 15-months was associated with more parent tickling in the RE episode. For ASD-sibs it was not. Results suggest that infant and parent emotional behaviors at 6 months of age in a standardized emotion-eliciting paradigm provide a window into the processes of developing attachment security.


Attachment; Autism; Emotion