People's response to stress depends to a large extent on their sense of perceived control over the situations they encounter. This longitudinal study of 136 children (70 girls) examined associations between attachment patterns and maternal sensitivity at 12 months of age, and perceived primary and secondary control at 11 years of age. Compared with children who were ambivalently attached in infancy, children who were securely attached reported a greater perceived primary control in general, and more primary control in interaction with their parents at 11 years of age. No such between-group difference in primary control tendencies was found in the context of reported interaction with peers. Higher maternal sensitivity in infancy was associated with higher perceived general primary control at 11 years of age. Lower maternal sensitivity was associated with higher perceived secondary control in children who were ambivalently attached to their mothers in infancy. The results are discussed within a theoretical framework linking early infant experience and the evolving personality characteristics of primary and secondary perceived control in older children and adolescents.
- Strange Situation procedure
- maternal sensitivity
- primary and secondary control