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Attach Hum Dev. 2013;15(5-6):583-602. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2013.841050.

How does microanalysis of mother-infant communication inform maternal sensitivity and infant attachment?

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a New York State Psychiatric Institute , New York , NY , USA.


Microanalysis research on 4-month infant-mother face-to-face communication operates like a "social microscope" and identifies aspects of maternal sensitivity and the origins of attachment with a more detailed lens. We hope to enhance a dialogue between these two paradigms, microanalysis of mother-infant communication and maternal sensitivity and emerging working models of attachment. The prediction of infant attachment from microanalytic approaches and their contribution to concepts of maternal sensitivity are described. We summarize aspects of one microanalytic study by Beebe and colleagues published in 2010 that documents new communication patterns between mothers and infants at 4 months that predict future disorganized (vs. secure) attachment. The microanalysis approach opens up a new window on the details of the micro-processes of face-to-face communication. It provides a new, rich set of behaviors with which to extend our understanding of the origins of infant attachment and of maternal sensitivity.

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