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Attachment in the early years
Attachment in the early years

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4 Influences on attachment

Because there is a great deal of variability in associations between parental behaviour and attachment classifications, it is difficult to identify precisely what aspects of parental behaviour are important. Some studies identify warmth but not sensitivity; some, patterning of stimulation but not warmth or amount of stimulation, and so forth. There is a general belief, however, that insecure-avoidant attachments are associated with intrusive, over-stimulating, rejective parenting, whereas insecure-resistant attachments are linked to inconsistent, unresponsive parenting (Belsky, 1999; de Wolff and van IJzendoorn, 1997).

Although the associations with disorganised (Type D) attachments are less well established, Type D attachments are more common among abused and maltreated infants, and among infants exposed to other pathological caregiving environments (Lyons-Ruth and Jacobvitz, 1999; Teti et al., 1995), and may be consequences of parental behaviours that infants find frightening or disturbing (Main and Hesse, 1990; Schuengel et al.,1999). There is also increasingly strong evidence that genetic factors are implicated in disorganised attachment (Gervai, 2009).