Cross-national longitudinal study of secure base relationships: behavioural organization, mental representations (From 2003 to 2006)

Project Leader:

Manuela Veríssimo & António Santos

Project's Summary:

It is the central purpose of the proposed study to consider the (potential) influences of culture on the organization of secure base behaviour and on the implications of secure base behaviour and knowledge organization for aspects of social insertion and social competence outside the family. Both attachment researchers and the cultural critics of attachment theory accept that the early parent-child relationship is a central and salient focus in the lives of young children and their caregivers. Nevertheless, cultural critics have argued that many societies/cultures structure social relationships differently and emphasize a different subset of interpersonal dimensions that influence parent-child relationships (e.g., individual autonomy vs. interdependence in interpersonal relationships) and that these cultural differences necessarily influence the construction of secure base relationships. For these reasons, the present study constitutes an important conceptual test of attachment theory. The teams were chosen strategically to represent a range of societies expected to differ along several potentially important dimensions that should influence the meaning of secure base relationships and interpretation of their correlates. USA site leaders will be B. Vaughn (Auburn) and G. Posada (Perdue). Local site leaders at the European sites will be Manuela Verissimo and Antonio Santos (Portugal), F. F. Strayer (France), and Karine Verschueren (Belgium). The Colombia site will lead by Olga Alicia and finally Keng-Ling Lay will lead the Taiwan site.

Project’s aims:

The new assessment strategies will allow us to begin to address interesting questions concerning: (1) the cross-cultural diversity in the organization of secure base information or knowledge; (2) the degree of within culture diversity in the organization of secure base information (3) the relations between caregivers’ organization of secure base information, the quality of their care, and children’s organization of secure base behaviour with the caregiver; (5) the cross-domain relations between secure base mental representations and behavioural organization in child-caregiver attachment relationships. The primary sample will consist of 50 families (approximately equal numbers of female and male children) from each of the 7 sites that will collect new data for the project. Families will be contacted and recruited to the study when the target child is between 24 and 30 months of age and assessed when the child is between 30 and 40 months of age. It is expected that most children will be in some form of non-parental care but State sponsored schooling will not begin in any country prior to 30 months of age.

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