Author

Kylene Krause

Date Approved

1-2013

Date Posted

9-16-2013

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Steven Huprich, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dean Lauterbach, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marilyn Wedenoja, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alissa Huth-Bocks, Ph.D., Chair

Abstract

Bowlby’s attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969/1982) is one of the most dominant approaches used to describe and investigate attachment relationships and emotional development throughout the entire lifespan. However, attachment research is typically conducted through two distinct fields of psychology: developmental and social/ personality psychology. These two fields tend to use different research strategies and measures and focus on different types and aspects of relationships, yet both make important contributions to the attachment literature (Bartholomew & Shaver, 1998). The goal of this investigation was to integrate attachment research from these two fields of psychology in order to broaden psychological and scientific understanding of the continuity of attachment quality (and relationship quality, more generally) from childhood to the transition to parenthood. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze data from a sample of 120 mostly economically disadvantaged single women who were followed from their third trimester of pregnancy to their child’s first birthday. Results were consistent with attachment theory and hypotheses. They indicated that a history of better relationship quality with one’s own mother, as well as better attachment with romantic partners, as reported during pregnancy, was related to more positive and balanced prenatal maternal representations of the child. In addition, a history of better attachment and more general relationship quality was related to lower parenting strain when children were 1 year of age. Finally, more positive and balanced prenatal maternal representations of the child were related to lower parenting strain, and partially mediated the association between maternal relationship experiences and parenting strain. Implications for these findings and directions for future research are discussed.

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