Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Do Secure Mother-child Attachments Predict Good Friendships?

Date:
February 17, 2009
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Preschool children who are securely attached to their mothers form closer friendships in the early grade-school years for a number of reasons, according to a new study.

Preschool children who are securely attached to their mothers form closer friendships in the early grade-school years for a number of reasons, according to a new University of Illinois study published in Child Development.

Related Articles


"In a secure, emotionally open mother-child relationship, children develop a more positive, less biased understanding of others, which then promotes more positive friendships during the early school years," said Nancy McElwain, a U of I assistant professor of human and community development and lead author of the study.

Scientists have known about the link between attachment and friendship quality, but they haven't understood the reasons it exists, she added.

The study included 1,071 children from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Researchers assessed mother-child attachment at age three. They also assessed how openly mothers and children acknowledged and communicated about their emotions when the child was four and a half.

"We found several ways in which the early mother-child relationship may affect later friendship quality," McElwain said. She noted that a number of measures were used.

At four and a half years and again in first grade, children were assessed for what the researchers called a hostile attribution bias. In this type of assessment, the child was given a series of hypothetical vignettes in which a peer did something negative to the child, although it wasn't clear if the peer had meant to hurt or antagonize the child.

For example, an interviewer might say, "John throws a ball and it hits you in the back." The child was then asked why his peer had acted in that way. If a child interpreted the peer's behavior as intentional (for example, "He meant to hit me in the back"), it indicated a hostile attribution bias.

Child language ability was also evaluated at four a half years and again in first grade.

Finally, mothers and teachers were asked to report on the child's general peer competence in first grade and the quality of the child's relationship with his or her closest friend in third grade.

Several pathways led from close early mother-child attachment to later friendship quality. In one pathway, children who were securely attached at age three showed more open emotional communication with mothers and better language ability at four and a half, she said.

"Open emotional communication in turn predicted fewer hostile attributions at first grade, which predicted greater teacher-reported friendship quality at third grade," she said.

"This finding suggests that the way children interpret other people's behavior may begin to develop in the context of early relationships in the family, and these interpretations may be important for a child's ability to get along with friends later on," she said.

In another pathway, open emotional communication and language ability at age four and a half was related to mother- and teacher-reported friendship quality via the child's general peer competence in first grade.

"When kids feel comfortable talking about their emotions, especially their negative emotions, it increases their social competence with classmates and leads to closer friendships," she said.

"The preschool years are an interesting period to study because the child's rapidly growing language skills allow parents and children to share in ways they haven't been able to before," she noted.

According to McElwain, the relationship between mother-child attachment and children's other close relationships may be an especially important one.

"A child's early attachment relationships are close and emotionally intense. For that reason, those relationships may be important in guiding children's thinking about and functioning in other close relationships," she said.

Co-authors of the study are Cathryn Booth LaForce of the University of Washington, Jennifer E. Lansford of Duke University, and Xiaoying Wu and W. Justin Dyer of the University of Illinois.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nancy L. McElwain, Cathryn Booth-LaForce, Jennifer E. Lansford, Xiaoying Wu, W. Justin Dyer. A Process Model of Attachment-Friend Linkages: Hostile Attribution Biases, Language Ability, and Mother-Child Affective Mutuality as Intervening Mechanisms. Child Development, 2008; 79 (6): 1891 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01232.x

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "How Do Secure Mother-child Attachments Predict Good Friendships?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217125553.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2009, February 17). How Do Secure Mother-child Attachments Predict Good Friendships?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217125553.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "How Do Secure Mother-child Attachments Predict Good Friendships?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090217125553.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 3, 2015) — Super Bowl champions Sidney Rice and Steve Weatherford donate their brains, post-mortem, to scientific research into repetitive brain trauma. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Newsy (Mar. 3, 2015) — Researchers found an abnormal protein associated with Alzheimer&apos;s disease in the brains of 20-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) — Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) — Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins