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Dev Psychol. 2002 Jul;38(4):534-42.

Mothers' insightfulness regarding their infants' internal experience: relations with maternal sensitivity and infant attachment.

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  • 1School of Social Work, University of Haifa, Israel.


This study examined the associations among mothers' insightfulness into their infants' internal experience, mothers' sensitivity to their infants' signals, and infants' security of attachment to their mothers. The insightfulness of 129 mothers of 12-month-old infants was assessed by showing mothers 3 videotaped segments of observations of their infants and themselves and interviewing them regarding their infants' and their own thoughts and feelings. Interviews were classified into 1 insightful and 3 noninsightful categories. Mothers' sensitivity was assessed during play sessions at home and at the laboratory, and infant-mother attachment was assessed with the Strange Situation. Mothers classified as positively insightful were rated as more sensitive and were more likely to have securely attached children than were mothers not classified as positively insightful. Insightfulness also accounted for variance in attachment beyond the variance explained by maternal sensitivity. These findings add an important dimension to research on caregiving, suggesting that mothers' seeking of explanations for the motives underlying their infants' behavior is related to both maternal sensitivity and infant attachment.

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