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Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology Copyright 1987 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.

1987, Vol 55, No. 6,805-816 0022-006X/87/S00.75

Maternal and Infant Temperamental Predictors of Attachment:


A Meta-Analytic Review

H. H. Goldsmith and Jennifer A. Alansky


University of Oregon

Because of the possible implications of infant-mother attachment for later adjustment, we examined
the extent to which it could be predicted by mother interactional variables and infant proneness to
distress. The meta-analysis demonstrated that sensitive, responsive maternal interaction predicted
the security of attachment in Ainsworth and Wittig's (1969) "strange situation." However, the
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strength of the relation was less than many narrative reviews have suggested. Proneness to distress,
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which is conceptualized as a temperamental variable, predicted resistance, which is a behavioral


pattern in the strange situation that is thought to indicate one variety of insecure attachment. The
strength of this association was low but was roughly comparable to that in the maternal domain. In
both the maternal and infant domains, we attempted to predict the effect sizes by study characteris-
tics such as method of assessment, sample composition, and age of subjects at the time of study. The
pattern of results highlights several continuing methodological problems in the field and suggests
that additional explanantory concepts are needed.

Variation in maternal caregiving and infant temperament are secure and insecure attachment. Traditional approaches have
two potential predictors of the quality of the mother-infant re- designated sensitive and responsive mothering as the key deter-
lationship in early life. Our review of these issues is motivated, minant (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bowlby,
in part, by the widespread belief that mother-infant attachment 1982). Other researchers have suggested roles that infant char-
influences later adaptation, including the development of be- acteristics might play in the development or assessment of the
havioral disorders (Sroufe, 1983). Although the cumulative evi- attachment (Goldsmith & Campos, 1982; Kagan, 1982; Roth-
dence for the effect of variation in attachment quality on psy- bart & Derryberry, 1981; Thomas, Chess, & Korn, 1982).
chopathology is still inconclusive, serious anomalies of attach- In this article, we provide a quantitative review of maternal
ment that may result from maltreatment foreshadow poor variables and infant temperament as predicters of overlapping,
outcomes (e.g., Cicchetti & Rizley, 1981; Oaensbauer & Har- but different, facets of the attachment relationship. Before we
mon, 1982; Schneider-Rosen & Cicchetti, 1984). Study of the describe our meta-analysis, we will briefly review its three com-
typical range of variation in attachment has yielded enough sug- ponent constructs: attachment, maternal responsiveness, and
gestive evidence to justify a volume called the Clinical Implica- infant temperament.
tions of Attachment (Belsky & Nezworski, in press). Although
we must avoid uncritical attribution of later outcomes to early Nature and Assessment of Attachment
developmental influences (Rutter, 1981), the organizational
construct of attachment is a potentially crucial determinant of The "strange situation" (Ainsworth et a)., 1978) assesses the
later personality, both normal and disordered. Another poten- security of the mother-infant attachment relationship primar-
tial determinant is the multidimensional construct of infant ily through the infant's reactions toward the mother during a
temperament, which also may influence later behavioral disor- series of brief separations and reunions. The strange situation
ders (Bates, 1987; Chess & Thomas, 1984). consists of eight episodes that each (with the exception of the
Because these relationships are potentially relevant to later first) last approximately 3 min. The infant is exposed to a series
functioning, investigators have attempted to study the origins of of increasingly stressful events that culminate in the highest
stress episode, during which the child is left alone. The proce-
dure begins with the introduction of the mother and infant to
an unfamiliar room (Episode 2). They are then joined by an
We appreciate the efforts of many investigators who facilitated this unfamiliar female stranger (Episode 3) who remains with the
report by sending us additional data from their studies. We also thank baby throughout the first separation from the mother (Episode
Loretta Rieser-Danner, who helped initiate the project. H. H. Gold- 4). Upon the mother's return, the stranger leaves and, again, the
smith was supported by Research Career Development Avard
mother and infant are left alone (Episode 5). Once the baby
HD00694 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human De-
has satisfactorily recovered from the first separation, the mother
velopment The research was aided by National Science Foundation
again leaves the room, and the infant's reactions while com-
Grant BNS-8 508927 and by National Institutes of Mental Health Grant
MH4I200. pletely alone are observed (Episode 6). After 3 min (or less if
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to H. H. the infant becomes too distressed), the stranger enters (Episode
Goldsmith, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, 7) and remains until the mother enters (Episode 8), at which
Oregon 97403. point the stranger exits. Both adults are instructed to respond

805
806 H. H. GOLDSMITH AND JENNIFER A. ALANSKY

to the infant as they would normally but to avoid initiating in- babies demonstrate strong proximity seeking and contact main-
teraction unless intervention is clearly necessary (e.g., the baby tenance, as does a Group B baby, but they also show fairly high
is distressed). resistance or an intense preoccupation with the mother, as does
The infant's reactions to the separations and, more specifi- an insecurely attached baby. The literature has dealt with this
cally, to the reunions with the mother are thought to measure issue by analyzing B4 babies in a number of ways (e.g., with
the degree to which the infant's "working model" of the mother Group B, alone, or included with Group C).
provides her or him with feelings of security or trust. The se- Finally, there is the issue of the applicability of the strange
curely attached infant should be able to use the mother as a situation to all children. It is assumed that two separations will
secure base for exploration and as a haven of safety in time of be sufficient to activate the attachment system in all children.
danger. The insecurely attached baby, on the other hand, is un- However, additional separations might be necessary to activate
sure whether the mother can be trusted to provide security in attachment in children with high fear or anger thresholds. These
the face of adversity and thus may avoid or resist the mother's limitations should be considered when interpreting the meta-
ministrations. analytic results. Despite these limitations, the strange situation
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The scoring of the strange situation is done on two levels. One does elicit a rich variety of behavior; its dominance of the field
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level seeks to identify and rate, on 7-point scales, the occurrence is such that one cannot discuss attachment research indepen-
of specific categories of infant behaviors. These interactive cate- dently of it.
gories include proximity seeking, contact seeking and mainte-
nance, avoidance, resistance, search during the separation epi-
Maternal Variables as Predictors of Attachment Quality
sodes, and distance interaction with both the mother and the
stranger. Traditional scoring requires that all categories be rated Traditionally, the attachment relationship between infant
for each episode, although special emphasis is placed on the and caregiver has been thought to reflect the quality of the infant
reunion episodes with the mother. care. A sensitive mother will be aware of her infant's cues, will
At the second level of scoring, judges use the interactive cate- interpret them correctly, and will respond appropriately. As a
gory ratings to classify the attachment relationship as secure result, the infant will learn that the mother is someone who can
(B), insecure-avoidant (A), or insecure-resistant (C). These be trusted to relieve distress quickly and effectively and to fulfill
three groups are further divided into eight subgroups (Al, A2, needs. Under such a secure attachment relationship, the infant
BI, B2, B3, B4, C1, C2), which reflect different behavioral pat- gradually grows more autonomous and is satisfied with the
terns within the attachment classifications. Infants classified in mere knowledge that the mother will respond if needed. When
Group A avoid the mother upon her return and, in general, tend an infant is unable to trust that the mother will respond to his
to ignore the mother's overtures throughout the strange situa- or her needs, the attachment bond is assumed to be insecure.
tion. Group C babies tend to mingle proximity seeking with The pioneer in the attachment field is Bowlby (1982), whose
resistant behavior toward the mother and appear to be fairly ideas have been accepted by current theorists such as Ainsworth
inept in handling the stresses presented by the strange situation. (1969) Mid Sroufe and Waters (1977). These theorists believe
Babies judged to be securely attached (Group B) tend to receive that assessed attachment reflects the quality of the dyadic rela-
moderate-to-high scores on proximity seeking and distance in- tionship and is most directly influenced by the quality of care.
teraction. These babies are quickly comforted by the presence The attachment relationship moves through four phases. After
of their mothers and are able to return to normal levels of explo- the first preattachment phase that ends at around 8-12 weeks,
ration and play more quickly than Group A or C babies. a second attachment-in-the-making phase is marked by the ex-
The strange situation has been subjected to critical scrutiny pansion of attachment behaviors, which become more exclu-
as an assessment technique (e.g., Cornell & Goldsmith, 1982; sively directed toward the primary attachment figure. The third
Lamb, Thompson, Gardner, & Charnov, 1985). First, the stress- clear-cut attachment phase usually begins at 6 months and ends
ful nature of the strange situation makes assessing its reliability around the time of the child's second birthday. The mother is
questionable due to carryover effects (Ainsworth et al., 1978). used as a secure base for exploration; when the child is sepa-
Second, convergent validation for the strange situation is lack- rated from her, the child typically becomes distressed. In this
ing due to the dominance of the strange situation for assessing phase, attachment can be viewed as a behavioral system that is
attachment. A Q-sort measure of attachment has recently been normally at low intensity or activation. There are a number of
developed (Waters & Deane, 1985), but correlations with set goals of the attachment system (e.g.. degree of proximity to
strange situation classifications have not yet been published. the mother) that, when exceeded, activate attachment behavior.
The actual attachment classifications have also been criti- The fourth, final phase is referred to as the goal-corrected part-
cized. The classification procedure appears to be highly sensi- nership phase. Now the child is less egocentric and can under-
tive to even one or two salient examples of resistant or avoidant stand the mother's motives and actions. The attachment rela-
behavior. Given that these signs of insecurity must occur on a tionship becomes less dependent. Recently, attachment theoriz-
probabilistic basis, heavy reliance on them must be misleading ing has moved in new and interesting directions (e.g., see
in some cases. Several researchers have found it impossible to Bretherton & Waters, 1985; Lamb et al., 1985), but these more
classify a child in Group A, B, or C and thus have created other recent extensions have not yet produced sufficient literature to
categories (e.g., Main & Solomon, 1986). The B4 subgroup is review quantitatively.
especially troubling. It is somewhat unclear whether B4 babies Researchers have identified several maternal variables that
are actually securely attached or whether they simply exhibit a seem to affect the security of attachment; these include respon-
slightly milder form of the Group C behavior pattern. These siveness to crying, timing of feeding, sensitivity, psychological
SPECIAL SERIES: META-ANALYSIS OF ATTACHMENT PREDICTORS 807

accessibility, cooperation, and acceptance. They are typically the attachment system. For a highly fearful child, a lower set
measured during home or laboratory observations of parent- goal would lead to fewer opportunities for experiencing the
child interaction. Ainsworth developed scales that quantify ma- mother as a secure base for exploration. That is, the attachment
ternal sensitivity versus insensitivity, acceptance versus rejec- system, and particularly proximity-seeking behavior, would be
tion, cooperation versus interference, and psychological accessi- activated sooner than in more fearful infants. Temperament
bility versus ignoring. Following Ainsworth's report that these might also affect the development of attachment by mediating
maternal variables significantly differentiated secure and inse- the course of mother-infant interaction (see Goldsmith &
cure attachment relationships (Ainsworth et al., 1978), investi- Campos, 1986, and Goldsmith et al., 1986, for elaboration of
gators have used similar measures both before and after strange these and related theoretical issues). Thompson (1986) pointed
situation assessment. For example, the mothers of securely at- out that perception of the contingent relation between infant
tached infants have been found to be more sensitive to their distress and maternal comforting is probably highly relative to
infant's cues for proximity and contact (Ainsworth, 1979, the baseline frequencies of the two responses. That is, infants
1982), more responsive and encouraging in face-to-face interac- who seldom cry, but whose mothers typically respond to bouts
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tion (Blehar, Lieberman, & Ainsworth, 1977), more affection- of crying with comforting, will detect the contingent relation
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ate (Bates, Maslin, & Frankel, 1985), gentler (Londerville & more readily than infants who cry frequently and experience
Main, 1981), more accepting (Main, Tomasini, & Tolan, 1979), sensitive maternal responses to the same proportion of cries.
and more positive in their vocalizations (Roggman, Langlois, & Aside from these theoretical issues, the circumstances of the
Hubbs-Tait, 1987) than mothers of insecurely attached infants. strange situation itself suggest that distress proneness, whatever
Maternal behaviors that predict security of attachment in the its origins, should be associated with outcome. Highly fearful
first year of life do not necessarily predict security of attach- infants' behavior should become more disorganized due to their
ment in later years. As the child grows older, the sensitive probable adverse reaction to separation from their mothers and
mother allows more autonomy. Thus, different maternal vari- to the low chance that they will be soothed by the stranger. Fur-
ables may predict adaptive functioning. thermore, infants prone to anger encounter an opportunity to
Given the supporting theory and literature, our meta-analytic express it during the reunions.
hypothesis is easily derived: The responsiveness and sensitivity Thus, several lines of reasoning led us to propose the follow-
of maternal caregiving predict the security of the attachment ing hypothesis for meta-analysis: Temperamental proneness to
relationship. distress predicts behavioral patterns involving contact resis-
tance in the strange situation, which is a key defining feature of
Temperamental Variables as Predictors the ambivalent form of insecure attachment.
We are not proposing that infant distress proneness is an al-
of Attachment Behavior
ternative to maternal variables as a predictor of attachment. We
The notion that infant characteristics might influence the expect that, if an effect exists in the population, its size will be
quality of attachment or, at least, the behavior displayed in the small enough so that other variables will simultaneously exert
strange situation, has been proposed by several investigators. small or moderate effects on attachment outcome. Moreover,
Putative relations between temperament and attachment could we are not trying to predict the security of attachment directly
assume different forms (Goldsmith & Campos, 1982): (a) tem- from distress proneness; rather, distress proneness seems more
perament may affect the development of attachment; (b) attach- plausibly associated with resistance, which is one of the two pri-
ment may affect the development of temperament; or (c) tem- mary classes of behavior that index insecure attachment. The
perament may affect the assessment of attachment in the plausibility of the meta-analytic hypothesis concerning distress
strange situation. More complex interactive processes are also proneness and resistant behavior, unlike the hypothesis con-
plausible. The current literature neither tests these complex cerning maternal sensitivity and responsiveness, falls far short
processes nor differentiates among the three simpler alterna- of enjoying the consensus of the field.
tives. In part, this deficiency in the literature has occurred be- As with the measurement of attachment and maternal vari-
cause temperament and attachment theories have failed to ac- ables, the measurement of temperament places limitations on
commodate one another. meta-analytic results. In contrast to the attachment investiga-
Temperament theories, which display substantial variation tors' near-unanimous choice of the strange situation and the
(see Goldsmith et al., 1987), have relatively little to say about strong influence of Ainsworth's system of measuring maternal
precisely how attachment, or other relationship variables, variables, temperament researchers use a wide variety of ques-
might affect temperamental development. Most temperament tionnaires in addition to observation and laboratory techniques
theorists would probably agree, however, that caregiving prac- that are study-specific. Economical maternal report question-
tices can modify the expression of temperament. naires have been the most common method; however, they are
Traditional attachment theories simply take little note of subject to a number of potential biases (Hubert, Wachs, Peters-
temperament; they suggest that the infant variance relevant to Martin, & Candour, 1982; Rothbart& Goldsmith, 1985).
attachment that exists is overshadowed by the more mature Because six temperament questionnaires have been used in
caregiver's success or failure in accommodating it. In examin- the studies we review, there is a potential lack of comparability
ing how classical attachment theory might be modified to incor- among the distress proneness scales. Some do not focus solely
porate temperamental influences, Goldsmith, Bradshaw, and on distress proneness. Some carry implications of fear; others
Rieser-Danner (1986) suggested that an infant's temperamental seem more likely to tap anger. Some ask for an objective rating
fearfulness might influence the chronic level of the set goals of of distress frequency; others implicitly or explicitly incorporate
808 H. H. GOLDSMITH AND JENNIFER A. ALANSKY

Table 1
Description of Studies Relating Maternal Variables and Security of Attachment

Maternal measure Effect sizes


Group A +
Study Description Age of assessment N Group C(%) d r

Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978' AR Sensitive 9-12 23 .43 2.55 .78
AR Accept 9-12 23 .43 2.29 .75
AR Cooperate 9-12 23 .43 2.65 .80
AR Accessibility 9-12 23 .43 2.43 .77
AR Combination 0-3 23 .43 1.02 .45
Antonucci & Levitt, 1984" PseudoSS Vocal 7 47 .36 .45 .21
PseudoSS Look 7 47 .36 1.10 .47
PseudoSS Smite 7 47 .36 -.14 -.07
Pseudo SS Approval 7 47 .36 .17 .08
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PseudoSS Touch 7 47 .36 .79 .35


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Bates, Maslin, & Frankel, 1985 HO Responsive 6 63 .38 .26 .12


HO Involvement 6 63 .38 .14 .03
HO Look 6 63 .38 .23 .11
HO Object Stimulation 6 63 .38 .14 .07
HO Contact 6 63 .38 .35 .17
HO Parity 6 63 .38 -.02 -.01
HO leaching 13 63 .38 .35 .17
HO Management 13 63 .38 .16 .07
HO Responsive Speech 13 63 .38 -.05 -.03
HO Affection 13 63 .38 .47 .22
HO Responsive 13 63 .38 -.40 -.19
HO Involvement 13 63 .38 -.03 -.01
Crockenberg, 1981 HO Responsive 3 48 .29 -.03 -.02
Egeland&Fartwr, 1984C AR Cooperate 6 212 .21 .64 .30
AR Sensitive 6 212 .21 .44 .21
PO Cooperate 6 212 .21 .47 .23
PO Sensitive 6 212 .21 .38 .19
Goldberg, Pwrotta, Minde, & Cotter, AR Accessibility 1.5 55 .25 1.04 .4!
1986" AR Cooperate 1.5 55 .25 .37 .16
AR Sensitive 1.5 55 .25 .89 .36
AR Accept 1.5 55 .25 1.31 .49
AR Accessibility 3 55 .25 -.03 -.01
AR Cooperate 3 55 .25 .50 .21
AR Sensitive 3 55 .25 .32 .14
AR Accept 3 55 .25 .33 .14
AR Accessibility 6 55 .25 .06 .03
AR Cooperate 6 55 .25 .04 .02
AR Sensitive 6 55 .25 .23 .10
AR Accept 6 55 .25 .46 .20
AR Accessibility 9 55 .25 .42 .18
AR Cooperate 9 55 .25 .16 .07
AR Sensitive 9 55 .25 .15 .06
AR Accept 9 55 .25 .03 .01
Grolnick, Bridges, &. Frodi, 1984 PO Affect 12 38 .21 .64 .25
PO Sensitive 12 38 .21 .29 .12
Grossman, Grossman, Spangter, Suess, & AR Sensitive 2 49 .61 .68 .31
Unzner, 1986* AR Cooperate 2 49 .61 .57 .27
AR Accept 2 49 .61 .04 .02
AR Sensitive 6 49 .61 .82 .37
AR Cooperate 6 49 .61 .63 .29
AR Accept 6 49 .61 .59 .28
AR Sensitive 10 49 .61 .34 .16
AR Cooperate 10 49 .61 .25 .12
AR Accept 10 49 .61 .60 .28
AR Sensitive 49 .61 .73 .33
AR Cooperate 49 .61 .55 .26
AR Accept 49 .61 .54 .25
Riser, Bates, Maslin, & Baytes, 1986r FTF-lnteract, Segment 1 6 66 .26 .49 .21
FTF-lnteract, Segment 3 6 66 .26 .11 .05
FTF-Nonabrupt handling 6 66 .26 .19 .08
FTF-Positive interaction, Segment 1 6 66 .26 .70 .29
FTF-Positive interaction, Segment 3 6 66 .26 .12 .05
Meyer, 1985W AR Sensitive 6 34 .32 .30 .14
AR Cooperate 6 34 .32 .31 .14
SPECIAL SERIES: META-ANALYSIS OF ATTACHMENT PREDICTORS 809

Table 1 (continued)

Maternal measure Effect sizes


Group A -t-
Study Description Age of assessment N GroupC(%) d r

Miyake, Chen, & Campos, 1985" HO Awake Affect 1 19 .58 -.19 -.09
HO Fussy Affect 1 19 .58 -.17 -.08
HO Awake Affect 3 19 .58 .34 .16
HO Fussy Affect 3 19 .58 -.67 -.31
Roggman, Langlois, & Hubbs-Tait, 1987' PO Positive Vocal 14 37 .51 .66 .31
PO Negative Vocal 14 37 .51 .27 .13
PO Encourage 14 37 .51 -.19 -.09
Smith & Pederson, 1983 PO Insufficient response 12 48 .42 1.37 .56
PO Appropriate response 12 48 .42 1.66 .63
PO Appropriate Response Required 12 48 .42 2.46 .77
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PO Intrusive Response 12 48 .42 .88 .40


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1
Studies for which no effect sizes could be derived

Belsky, Rovine, & Taylor, 1984 HO Responsive 1,3,9 51 .38


HO Positive Affect 1,3,9 51 .38
HO Soothe 1,3,9 51 .38
HO Vocalization 1,3,9 51 .38
Ricks, 1982 FTF Smile 3,6,9 102
FTP Vocalization 3,6,9 102
FTF Affect 3,6,9 102
FTF Responsive 3,6,9 102

Note. Group A = attachment relationships classified as insecure-avoidant; Group C = attachment relationships classified as insecure-resistant.
AR = Ainsworth ratings; FTF = face-to-face interaction; HO = home observation; PO = play observation; Pseudo SS = pseudo strange situation
(with only one separation and one reunion episode). In all studies, attachment was assessed when the infant was approximately 12 months old.
* Derivation sample; SDs used in computing ds derived from other data. * Sample contained only 2 Group C subjects, whom the authors excluded
from the analysis. c Economically disadvantaged sample. d Sample included some twins and premature infants. 'German sample; dashes indi-
cate the use of across-age composites not used further in the meta-analysis. ' Sample the same as that used in Bates et al. Segment 1 measures were
taken prior to the maternal unresponsive episode; Segment 3 measures were taken after the episode. ' German sample. * Japanese sample. Group
C included 4 pseudo Group C subjects. These subjects initially showed little resistant behavior in the first reunion episode but then displayed high
resistance in second reunion episode. Other maternal measures were taken, but effect sizes could not be calculated. ' Author excluded Bl and B4
subjects from the study, which might have inflated effect size estimates. ' We know of the existence of at least two other unpublished data sets but
have no quantitative information about them. Effect sizes for the studies listed were positive, but their magnitude could not be estimated.

respondents' perceptions. We were aided in our attempt to pick identify possible studies. The terms strange situation, attachment, tem-
comparable distress proneness scales from different question- perament, and maternal were used as the descriptors in the computer
naires by a recent report of the intercorrelations between the search. Most studies were located by following-up on the references
found in pertinent studies and by searching through the Society for Re-
scales from several questionnaires in a normal sample (Gold-
search in Child Development and the International Conference on In-
smith etal., 1986).
fant Studies conference abstracts.
In most cases, insufficient data were reported for the purposes of the
Method meta-analysis. Thus, we requested that authors send us the necessary
information, which we received in most (but by no means all) cases.
Selection of Studies
Studies for analysis were drawn from empirical research that used Meta-Analytic Method
Ainsworth's strange situation or (in two cases) a Q-sort measure of at-
tachment security (Waters & Deane, 1985). The goal of the meta-analy- When we were confronted with actual studies that varied in concept
ses was to evaluate the relations between temperament and attachment and completeness of reporting, we faced many decisions about both
and between maternal variables and attachment in relatively normal data analytic techniques and the selection of variables (see Hedges &
populations. Consequently, samples that reported possible pathology Olkin, 1985; Hunter, Schmidt, & Jackson, 1982). A full justification of
(abuse, neglect, retardation, etc.) were not included in the meta-analy- our decisions is beyond the scope of this article; however, an addendum
ses. Excluded studies are exemplified by the study of Lyons-Ruth, Con- containing such information is available from the authors. Quite often,
nell, Zoll, and Stahl (1987), who assessed maternal involvement, intru- the choice among available measures from a study was simply deter-
siveness, and quality of caregiving by mothers of maltreated infants. mined by the availability of information for computing effect sizes. Al-
However, some studies did include preterm infants, twins, infants from though our decisions were as systematic as possible, and we believe they
poor families, and other atypical but not pathological characteristics. were fully defensible, they undoubtedly influenced the outcome and re-
We omitted studies that correlated maternal or temperamental vari- sults should be understood accordingly.
ables with past attachment behavior because the goal was to examine Maternal variables. The meta-analytic hypothesis concerns the
predictive influences that might have causal implications. A computer effect of maternal sensitivity on the secure versus anxious (insecure)
search of the Psychological Abstracts free-text database was used to distinction. Because the outcome variable is operationalized as a dis-
810 H. H. GOLDSMITH AND JENNIFER A. ALANSKY

crete classification in the strange situation, we calculated effect sizes as Table 2


standardized mean differences between the secure and insecure groups. Stem and Leaf Plots of Effect Sizes for Maternal Variables
That is, we averaged the scores of the insecure Group A and Group C and Security of Attachment
classifications, weighting for sample sizes, and contrasted them with the
means of infants classified as securely attached. Cohen (1977); Glass, Studies
McGaw, and Smith (1981); and Hedges (1982) have suggested slightly represented by one Studies
different ways to standardize the mean difference from a study. When All effect sizes (ds) from d per type measure represented by
possible, we favored Hedges's approach of using the sample standard Table I per age per study mean d
deviation from all subjects. Although the method of calculating effect
Stem Leaf Stem I Leaf Stem I Leaf
sizes varied slightly from sample to sample, the effect size estimates,
d = (M, - A/AcySflpoow, are considered comparable across studies. 2.4 8 1.7 5
2.6 5
Temperamental variables. The meta-analytic hypothesis in this 2.5 5 1.6
case did not directly concern the secure versus anxious attachment dis- 2.4 36 1.5 9 1.5 9
tinction. Because we conceptualized both distress proneness and resis- 2.3 1.4
tant behavior in the strange situation as continuous variables, we used 2.2 9 1.3 .5 0
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Pearson product-moment correlations as our effect size estimates, as 1.2 .4 678


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recommended by Rosenthal (1984) and others. Optimal data for our 1.6 6 1.1 .3 029
analysis were correlations between the distress measure and composite 1.5 1.0 2 .2 5
1.4 .9 0 ,1 3
ratings of resistance from the two reunion-with-mother episodes in the
i.3 17 .8 .0
strange situation. In several studies, we substituted the mean of the cor-
1.2 .7 -.0 3
relations between temperamental distress and noncomposite resistance 1.1 0 .6 8 -.1 8
measures from the reunions; such values should be slightly lower than 1.0 24 .5
those from the optimal data. IB cases when we could not obtain direct .9 .4 03778
correlational values, we computed effect size from the contrast of inse- .8 289 .3 12
cure Group C infants, who are notable for high levels of resistance, with .7 09 .2 058
secure Group B infants. Infants classified as Group A did not enter into .6 034468 .1 89
these estimates because they are not notable for showing either high or .5 079 .0 8
.4 2456779 -.0 3
low resistance. The estimates of d were then converted to correlational
.3 0123445578 -.1 78
effect sizes using the formula, r = d/(tf + [ I/pa])"2, where p and q are
.2 335679
the proportions of infants in the two groups and p + q 1 (Rosenthal, .1 124456679
1984, p. 25). Checks verified the accuracy of the conversion procedure. .0 3446
Two studies were unique in their use of an alternative measure of -.0 23335
attachment security. Waters and Deane's (1985) Q sort. Although the -.1 4799
Q sort yields no resistance measure, some of the item content that con- -.2
tributes to high insecurity scores is resistance related. Thus, we included -.3
the distress proneness correlations with the insecurity score from the Q -.4 0
-.5
sort.
-.6 7
It should be clear that the r estimates from the temperament data are
not directly comparable to the d estimates from the maternal data; d is Note In stem and leaf plot, the first digits of ds form the ordinate scale
always larger than r. (at left) and the second digits form the distribution.

Results
variation in that distribution. We begin by graphically present-
Maternal Interactive Variables
ing three distributions of the effect sizes in stem and leaf plots
We identified 15 studies that assessed maternal behavior fol- in Table 2. The vertical stem in each plot represents the first
lowed by (or in a few cases immediately following) tits strange digit {the tenths place) for each d, and the horizontal leaves rep-
situation. Table 1 contains pertinent information about these resent the second digit. There is, of course, one leaf for each
studies. Listed first are the 13 studies from which we could cal- effect size. The left side plot shows each of the ds given in Table
culate effect sizes, often after receiving additional data from the 1 and contains many dependent estimates. The right side of Ta-
authors. Next are listed 2 studies in which the authors examined ble 2 displays a single average effect size for each study. The
some relation between maternal variables and attachment but center plot presents a middle of the road solution: ds averaged
for which no effect sizes could be estimated. It should be em- within type of measure and age. Although most studies are rep-
phasized that failure to include sufficient information for the resented by a single datum in the center plot, the more extensive
calculation of effect sizes should not necessarily reflect nega- longitudinal studies of Grossman, Grossman, Spangler, Suess,
tively on the authors. Some studies listed are preliminary re- and Unzner (1986), for example, are each represented by 3
ports, some are concerned with other issues and, of course, edi- points.
torial policies often preclude the adequate presentation of sta- We chose the center plot as the most appropriate data base
tistically nonsignificant results. Although all studies bear on this for calculating summary statistics (see Table 3). The median of
central issue, they are hardly exact replications, and distin- the distribution (.32) fell short of the raw mean (.49) and the
guishing characteristics are listed in the table note. mean weighted for sample size (.40). The semi-interquartile
Our task is to characterize the distribution of effect sizes range (.34) was less than the standard deviation (.61), which
listed in Table 1 and to attempt to account for the nonrandom indicates a lack of normality of the distribution. The reason for
SPECIAL SERIES: META-ANALYSIS OF ATTACHMENT PREDICTORS 811

Table 3 ments of sensitive maternal involvement were a better predictor


Statistical Summary of the Effect Sizes (ds)for Maternal than assessments conducted several months prior to the strange
Variables and Security of Attachment (From Table 2) situation.

Statistic Value
Temperamental Variables
Number of d estimates 21
Maximum d 2.48 Expanding the review of Goldsmith et al. (1986), we identi-
3rd quartile of d distribution .63 fied 18 studies pertinent to the temperament/attachment issue.
Median d .32
These studies were much more heterogeneous in theoretical ori-
1st quartile of d distribution .18
Minimum d -.18 entation and assessment methodology than the set that was used
.75 (3rd quartile - 1st quartile) .34 to examine maternal variables. Some studies used observa-
Raw mean of (is .49 tional methodology and others used questionnaires. Also, the
SD of d distribution .61 proportion of highly resistant Group C infants varied substan-
Weighted mean of ds .40
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tially across samples. Table 4 presents the essential characteris-


Proportion of ds having positive sign .84
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Z of proportion ds with positive sign 3.27* tics of each study.


Mean d (excluding Ainsworth study) .36 In Table 5, the three stem and leaf plots follow the same strat-
Mean d for Ainsworth-tvpe ratings .68' egy outlined for Table 2. Note, however, that re rather than ds
Mean d for other observational measures .31
are the effect size estimates. Consistent with the similarity of
Mean d for concurrent ( 2 months) measures . 88b
Mean d for prior measures .yf the semi-interquartile range and SD estimates, the center plot
r of d with interval between maternal variables appears relatively normal in distribution. The low-power, chi-
and attachment measures - .47 square test for heterogeneity of the effect sizes was insignificant
(p = .18), suggesting that, at the least, the central tendency of
Note. The summary statistics are based on studies represented by one
the distribution is a meaningful figure. The mean, r = .16, is a
d per type measure per study, as shown in the center section of Table 2.
1
Value = .44 when Ainsworth study is omitted. b Value = .62 when value that would not be statistically significant in most individ-
Ainsworth study is omitted. ' Value = .24 when Ainsworth study is ual studies. However, the Z test for the proportion greater than
omitted. zero indicated that the null hypothesis is very unlikely to be
*p = .0006, one-tailed.
true. Thus, distress proneness predicted resistant behavior in
the strange situation with low strength when their relation was
uncorrected for attenuation.
these discrepancies is readily apparent in the stem and leaf Interestingly, questionnaire and observational measures re-
plots: The original Ainsworth data, from which the attachment vealed about the same average effect sizes (.14 and .15, respec-
classification was derived, show much stronger effects than sub- tively). The interval between temperament and attachment as-
sequent studies. The Ainsworth data were admittedly selected sessment did not influence the strength of the effect. Thus, we
(Ainsworth et al., 1978, p. 148), and the maternal differences were unable to discern factors that accounted for the variation
they reflect were perhaps confounded, with the variables scored in effect sizes in the temperamental domain. Perhaps too few of
in the original strange situation (Lamb et al., 1985). In light of the studies were close replications for method variance to be
these factors, the more appropriate mean effect size is perhaps apparent.
.36, a value that omits the Ainsworth ds. Inspection of the raw data in Table 3 shows that heterogeneity
After omitting the Ainsworth et al. (1978) studies, we could of estimates was particularly great for the neonatal measures,
not reject the hypothesis that the estimates were drawn from a with some effect sizes substantial and others approximating
homogeneous population, which implies that the variation zero. Despite the doubt that neonatal measures are valid indica-
among effect sizes was due to random factors. However, the tors of temperament (Goldsmith & Campos, 1982), the sources
power of our test for heterogeneity was low. Thus, for descriptive of this variation deserve further study.
purposes alone, it seemed advisable to investigate differences
among subgroups of effect size estimates without attempting to
Discussion
support inferences statistically. The relevant descriptive statis-
tics are shown in Table 3. We first observed that Ainsworth-type Summary
rating scales showed effect sizes that could be characterized as
low to medium (Cohen, 1977). The mean effect size for more What do these results mean? First, an effect that many attach-
objective behavior count measures (.31) was quite low. Perhaps ment researchers believed to be nonexistent actually does seem
the mediation of a human observer aids in taking contextual to exist. The review documents a small predictive effect of tem-
variables into proper account. perament on one facet of insecure attachment behavior. In part,
The other descriptive statistics describe the relation of time our more positive finding results from our focus on a more ex-
of assessment to strength of effect. No elaborate theory is re- plicit hypothesis concerning the resistant behavior pattern
quired to suggest that variables measured on either side of a rather than security.
short interval might be more strongly related than those with Second, an effect that has enjoyed the confidence of most at-
longer intervening periods. The correlation of d with the inter- tachment researchers is not as strong as was once believed.
val between predictor and outcome was .47. Mean differences Many of the studies listed in Table 1 replicate Ainsworth et al.'s
between studies also suggested that roughly concurrent assess- (1978) original findings of the predictive power of maternal sen-
812 H. H. GOLDSMITH AND JENNIFER A. ALANSKY

Table 4
Description of Measures in the Distress Proneness and Resistance Analyses

Age distress measure


Study Distress measure taken (months) N Group C(%) r

Bates, Maslin, &Frankel, 1985 Q ICQ Fussy/Difficult 6 63 .19 -.10


Q RITQ Mood 6 63 ,19 -.21
Riser, Bates, Maslin, &. Bayles, 1 986* HO Fussiness 6 63 .19 .14
FTP Agitated Vocal 6 63 .14 .25
Bayles & Bates, private communication, 1986 Q ICQ Fussy/Difficult 13 63 .19 -.04
HO Crying 13 63 .19 -.07
Bayley Fear rating 13 63 .19 .24
Belsky, Rovine, & Taylor, 1984b HO Fuss/Cry (C2> ] 54 .19 -.09
Betsky& Rovine, 1987 Q DOTS Reactivity (C2) 3 44 .23 -.02
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HO Fuss/Cry <C2) 3 55 .16 .22


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Belsky, & Isabella, in press Q DOTS Reactivity (C2) 9 48 .19 -.00


Belsky & Rovine, private communication, 1986 HO Fuss/Cry <C2) 9 53 .17 .33
NBAS Autonomic Stability (C2) neonatal 49 .16 .41
NBAS Autonomic Stability (C3) neonatal 95 .11 .25
Q ICQ Fussy/Difficult (C2 + C3) 3 147 .35 .19
Bradshaw, Goldsmith, & Campos, 1987 Q IBQ Fear 12 40 .05 .24
Cox & Owen, private communication, 1 986C Q RITQ Mood 3 37 na .19
Crockenberg, 1981 NBAS Irritability neonatal 48 .19 .01
Prodi* Sheldon, 1982 Q RITQ Mood 12 40 .13 .12
Grossman, Grossman, Spangler. Sues, &
Unzner, I986"1 NBAS Irritability neonatal 49 .12 -.02
Meyer, 1985a, I985b* Q ITS Difficulty 12 34 .12 .24
Miyake, Chen, & Campos, 1985f HO Crying 1 19 .42 .40
Rieser-Danner, Roggman, & Langlois, 1984 QTTSMood 12 50 .02 .03
Stevenson-Hinde, 1985' Q BSQ Mood (mother) 30 82 na .36
QBSQ Mood (father) 30 80 na .31
Thompson & Lamb, 1983K Q IBQ Fear 13 43 .12 .03
Q IBQ Fear 19 43 .19 .28
Stevenson-Hinde, 1985' QTTSMood 12 28 na .20
Waters, Vaughin, & Egeland, 19801 NBAS Irritability neonatal 100 .26 .12

Studies for which no effect sizes could be derived

Singer, Brodzinsky, Ramsay, Steir, & Waters, IBQ Fear 12 56


1985"
Egeland &Farber, 1984' NBAS Irritability neonatal 212 .23
Nurse Rate: Difficult neonatal 212 .23
HO Temperament 3 212 .23
ITQ Difficulty 6 212 .23 m
HO Temperament 6 212 .23 ns
PO State 6 212 .23
Goldberg, Perrotta, Minde, & Corter, 1986 RITQ Difficult 3 55 .07
RITQ Difficult 6 55 .07
RITQ Difficult 12 55 .07
Holmes, Ruble, Kowalski, & Lauesen, 1984 NBAS Irritability neonatal 24
OBS Crying neonatal 24

Note. BSQ = Behavioral Style Questionnaire; C2 = Cohort 2; C3 = Cohort 3; DOTS = Dimensions of Temperament Scale; HO = home observation;
IBQ = Infant Behavior Questionnaire; ICQ = Infant Characteristics Questionnaire; ITQ = Infant Temperament Questionnaire; NBAS = Neonatal
Behavioral Assessment Scale; HO = home observation; PO = play observation; Q questionnaire; TTS = Toddler Temperament Scale. Attachment
was assessed at 12 months, except as indicated in footnotes to specific studies.
* Sample the same as that used in Bates et al. b Data from this version of the DOTS were not used in pooled effect size calculations because the
ICQ provided a better measure of distress proneness. c Data from a prior study by Owen and Chase-Lansdale (1982) were unavailable (authors
reported that B4s, particularly, showed difficult temperament patterns in the earlier study). d German sample. e German sample. r Japanese
sample. Group C included 4 pseudo Group C subjects. (Pseudo Group C subjects showed little resistant behavior in the first reunion episode but
then displayed high resistance in the second reunion episode.) ' Used Q sort to assess attachment. Attachment and temperament ratings were taken
at 21 years. "Attachment was assessed at 13 and 19 months. ' Used Q sort to assess attachment. 'Subsample of that used by Egeland and Farber
(1984). Estimates were available for Day 7 NBAS data only. 'Sample consisted of adopted children. 'Sample consisted of disadvantaged, high-
risk subjects. " Sample included some twins and premature infants. For OBS Crying data, positive effect sizes were reported, but their magni-
tude could not be estimated.
SPECIAL SERIES: META-ANALYSIS OF ATTACHMENT PREDICTORS 813

Table 5 analysis requires a large body of literature; thus, it cannot focus <
Stem and Leaf Plots and Statistical Summary of on theoretical ideas that have not yet generated a body of litera-
Correlations Between Distress Proneness and ture.
Resistant Attachment Behavior Possible bias in the analysis of maternal effects. We noticed
that studies in this domain tended to explore several potential
Studies
measures of maternal behavior, with selective reporting of sig-
represented
by one r per nificant results. It was impossible to determine systematically
type measure Studies the extent of this upward bias in effect size. Counterbalancing
All effect sizes per age per represented this bias was the characteristic low reliability of typical home-
(re from Table 4) study by mean r observation ratings. In addition, some measures may not have
Stem I Leaf captured the essence of sensitive caregiving as well as others.
I Leaf Leaf
Possible bias in the analysis of infant effects. The likelihood
.4 01 01 0 of publication bias is difficult to evaluate in the temperament
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.3 136 34 4 domain because traditional attachment theory holds that infant


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.2 02444558 00234458 0044


.1 temperament should not be a significant predictor. Thus, publi-
22499 2299 2269
.0 0133 1339 133 cation of nonsignificant findings might have been encouraged
-.0 22479 249 2 to some extent.
-.1 0 6 Perhaps the chief difficulty in this research is that inclusion
-.2 1 of temperament measures has been rather atheoretical. Rather
than assessing one or two conceptually related temperamental
Note. In stem and leaf plots, the first digits of rs form the ordinate scale
(at left) and the second digit forms the distribution. constructs, investigators have cast their nets widely and have
assessed many temperamental characteristics. It is hardly re-
markable that multivariate analyses of variance are insignifi-
cant when no theoretical basis exists for linking most of the
sitivity when replication is evaluated in terms of statistical sig- characteristics to attachment (e.g., Bates et al., 1985; Bradshaw,
nificance. However, the newer studies reveal that the size of the Goldsmith, & Campos, 1987).
effect is weak. For instance, mean fourth quarter ds from Ains- In some of the studies under review, aspects of temperament
worth's study are 13 times higher than Goldberg et al.'s (1986) other than distress proneness were moderately strong predictors
9-month estimates and 4-6 times higher than Egeland and Far- of one or another facet of attachment-related behavior. The lim-
ber's (1984) 6-month estimates (see Table 1). Only a few previ-
ous reviewers (e.g., Lamb et al., 1985) have recognized and pro-
posed explanations for the inconsistency in this literature.
Table6
Potential Limitations of the Meta-Analysis Statistical Summary of the Effect Sizes (rs)for Distress
Proneness and Resistant Attachment Behavior (from Table 5)
Potential objections to the meta-analytic approach. Meta-
analytic studies such as ours are sometimes criticized for ignor- Statistic Value
ing important facets of individual studies, for combining bad
Number of r estimates 23
with good studies, or for averaging results from dissimilar mea- Maximum r .41
sures or subjects. The limited scope of this article demands that 3rd quartile of r distribution .24
we not address these criticisms, but meta-analysis has been vig- Median r .20
orously defended against such charges by Glass (1978), Rosen- 1 st quartile of r distribution .02
Minimum r -.16
thai (1984), and others.
.75 (3rd quartile - 1st quartile) .14
A more specific objection to our approach might be that our Raw mean of rs .16
analyses examined only direct effects, whereas current concep- SD of r distribution .16
tualizations of the developmental influences on the attachment Weighted mean of re .155
system are interactive in character. There are three answers to Proportion of rs having positive sign .82
Z of proportion rs with positive sign 3.13"
this objection. First, although Crockenberg (1986), Thompson Chi square for heterogeneity of rs 28.21"
(1986), and others have advocated interactive approaches, an Mean r for 12 questionnaire
influential body of opinion holds that maternal influences are measures .14
paramount (see Sroufe, 1985). Other researchers have empha- Mean r for 5 observational
measures .15
sized the potential direct impact of temperament (e.g., Chess &
Mean r for 6 neonatal measures .20
Thomas, 1982). Thus, the issue of direct effects bears on current Correlation of re with interval
theoretical controversy. Second, we think that influences on at- between distress proneness and
tachment are unlikely to be totally interactive in the statistical attachment measures .05
sense of the term. Clarifying the magnitude of direct effects is a
Note. The summary statistics are based on studies represented by one r
useful precursor and guide to studying the nature of interactive
per type measure per study, as shown in the center section of Table 5.
effects. The third answer is practical: By its very nature, meta- 'df=22,p = .lS.
*p = . 0009, one-tailed.
814 H. H. GOLDSMITH AND JENNIFER A. ALANSKY

ited literature did not permit meta-analytic examination of of infant behavior. Indeed, the relation of maternal behavior rat-
these other variables. ings to later attachment may appear because these ratings cap-
ture dyadic relationships, whereas the infant ratings do not."
Although infant ratings, in general, may not capture dyadic
Relative Influence of Temperament and Attachment
relationships, they should not be equated with endogenous in-
We have not yet addressed the issue of the relative strength fluences. Theorists vary in the emphasis they place on the con-
of maternal caregiving style and infant distress as predictors of stitutional nature of temperament (Goldsmith et al., 1987). We
attachment Although the analyses were directed to different think most developmentalists would agree, however, that the
facets of the outcome (security vs. resistance), we may compare measures of infant distress proneness used in the meta-analysis
the magnitude of effects documented in the tables. The d to r could be influenced by contextual factors, with the mother-in-
conversions in Table 1 show that the typical maternal effect sizes fant relationship being one of the most salient. The child's typi-
were only slightly greater than the typical correlations (. 16-.20) cal hedonic state, even when assessed with a questionnaire scale,
observed in the temperament data. With the Ainsworth et al. is probably a complexly determined characteristic.
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(1978) data omitted, the overall effect sizes in the two domains Recently, there have been attempts to encourage the theoreti-
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.

were quite comparable. Maternal measures show an average cally motivated study of temperament and attachment by sug-
correlational effect size of. 16 (derived by averaging all rs that gesting points of mutual accommodation in the two theoretical
corresponded to the ds that were analyzed in Table 2, except spheres (Belsky & Rovine, 1987; Campos, Barrett, Lamb,
Ainsworth's). Goldsmith, & Stenberg, 1983; Goldsmith et al., 1986; Steven-
The issue can also be addressed by examining studies that son-Hinde, 1985; Connell & Thompson, 1986). Our results,
assessed both temperament and attachment. The majority of which demonstrate the modest direct predictive power of both
these nine studies reported at least some positive findings in maternal interactive variables and infant distress proneness,
both areas, with the maternal findings somewhat stronger. emphasize the need for such integrative research to account for
The most appropriate conclusion appears to be that both pre- the substantial unexplained variation in the functioning of the
dictor variables are associated with attachment in the broad attachment system.
sense. Differences in the characteristic methodology of assess-
ing distress proneness and maternal sensitivity preclude more References
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