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Child Dev. 1991 Jun;62(3):572-82.

Effect of maternal social support on attachment: experimental evidence.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202.


The present study used an experimental format to evaluate the influence of maternal social support on the development of attachment. 46 WIC primigravidas were randomly assigned to an experimental or control condition. Volunteer coaches, trained to provide maternal support and information, met with experimentals prenatally and during the first postpartum year. Experimentals and controls did not differ on demographics, ego level, verbal ability, affect, or perceived social support. At 14 months, experimental infants scored higher on an Attachment Ratings cluster from Waters and Deane's new Q-sort procedure. This cluster was more sensitive than a Criterion Sort measure in detecting the effect of the manipulation and as or more sensitive to maternal affect, perceived support, and the HOME. These findings provide experimental evidence regarding the importance of social support on infant attachment and support for an alternative approach for reducing data from the attachment Q-sort.

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