In search of shared and non-shared influences on infant attachment: A behavior-genetic study of the association between sensitivity and attachment

R.M. Fearon, M.H. van IJzendoorn, P. Fonagy, M.J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, C. Schuengel, C.L. Bokhorst

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The current article presents results from a twin study of genetic and environmental components of maternal sensitivity and infant attachment and their association. The sample consisted of 136 twin pairs from 2 sites: Leiden, the Netherlands, and London, UK. Maternal sensitivity was assessed in the home at 9-10 months, and infant attachment security was observed in the laboratory at 12 months. The study yielded little evidence that genetic factors are involved in variations between twins in maternal sensitivity ratings but did find that shared variance in maternal sensitivity was able to account for some of the similarity between twins in attachment security. Weak nonshared associations between sensitivity and attachment appeared to suppress the magnitude of the correlation between attachment and sensitivity in twin children. The results could indicate that the attachment security of one twin may depend on the relationship the parent has with the other twin. The results are brought to bear on the validity of attachment theory as a theory of primarily shared environmental effects in children's development and the continuing challenge posed to attachment theory by within-family differences in socioemotional processes. PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1026-1040
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Volume42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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Genetic Association Studies
infant
Mothers
twin studies
heredity
parents
Netherlands
rating
Twin Studies
Child Development
evidence

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title = "In search of shared and non-shared influences on infant attachment: A behavior-genetic study of the association between sensitivity and attachment",
abstract = "The current article presents results from a twin study of genetic and environmental components of maternal sensitivity and infant attachment and their association. The sample consisted of 136 twin pairs from 2 sites: Leiden, the Netherlands, and London, UK. Maternal sensitivity was assessed in the home at 9-10 months, and infant attachment security was observed in the laboratory at 12 months. The study yielded little evidence that genetic factors are involved in variations between twins in maternal sensitivity ratings but did find that shared variance in maternal sensitivity was able to account for some of the similarity between twins in attachment security. Weak nonshared associations between sensitivity and attachment appeared to suppress the magnitude of the correlation between attachment and sensitivity in twin children. The results could indicate that the attachment security of one twin may depend on the relationship the parent has with the other twin. The results are brought to bear on the validity of attachment theory as a theory of primarily shared environmental effects in children's development and the continuing challenge posed to attachment theory by within-family differences in socioemotional processes. PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved.",
author = "R.M. Fearon and {van IJzendoorn}, M.H. and P. Fonagy and M.J. Bakermans-Kranenburg and C. Schuengel and C.L. Bokhorst",
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In search of shared and non-shared influences on infant attachment: A behavior-genetic study of the association between sensitivity and attachment. / Fearon, R.M.; van IJzendoorn, M.H.; Fonagy, P.; Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J.; Schuengel, C.; Bokhorst, C.L.

In: Developmental Psychology, Vol. 42, 2006, p. 1026-1040.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AU - Fearon, R.M.

AU - van IJzendoorn, M.H.

AU - Fonagy, P.

AU - Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J.

AU - Schuengel, C.

AU - Bokhorst, C.L.

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AB - The current article presents results from a twin study of genetic and environmental components of maternal sensitivity and infant attachment and their association. The sample consisted of 136 twin pairs from 2 sites: Leiden, the Netherlands, and London, UK. Maternal sensitivity was assessed in the home at 9-10 months, and infant attachment security was observed in the laboratory at 12 months. The study yielded little evidence that genetic factors are involved in variations between twins in maternal sensitivity ratings but did find that shared variance in maternal sensitivity was able to account for some of the similarity between twins in attachment security. Weak nonshared associations between sensitivity and attachment appeared to suppress the magnitude of the correlation between attachment and sensitivity in twin children. The results could indicate that the attachment security of one twin may depend on the relationship the parent has with the other twin. The results are brought to bear on the validity of attachment theory as a theory of primarily shared environmental effects in children's development and the continuing challenge posed to attachment theory by within-family differences in socioemotional processes. PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved.

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