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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Children’s conceptualizations of attachment and caregiving Head, Timothy L.


A new measure, the Revised Permitting-Blocking Access Inventory (PBAR) was developed to assess patterns of young children's conceptualizations of their relationships with caregivers. It focuses on distress in the context of potential child-caregiver psychological separation. Each set of line drawings depicts a same-sex child in a concrete distress situation (e.g., hurt knee) with the mother, and separately, with the father. In each set of four drawings the parent is depicted as responding in one of four different ways: from sensitively permitting access, through mildly ignoring, to strongly ignoring, and finally, angrily blocking access. The child is first asked the general question, "which one is most like".the parent when the child is in that situation. Later, the same pictures are presented again/ with a more specific question intended to give the child a sense of permission to choose the less ideal categories. The participants in this study were 19 female and 23 male children (aged 5.0 to 7.0, mean 6.0) and their primary caregiver (38 mothers, 4 fathers). During a separation of over an hour, the parent was given the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), and, in the context, of a play session, the child did the PBAR. Together they then went through Crittenden's Preschool Assessment of Attachment (PAA), using a videotaped Strange Situation Procedure. A priori hypotheses about patterns-of PBAR responses identified 81% of the children who were securely versus insecurely attached to their primary caregiver on the PAA, based on the children's selections for the 28 child-parent and 3 child-teacher scenarios (drawings). Specificity, the ability to identify securely attached children, was 57%, and sensitivity, the ability to identify insecurely attached children, was 86%. With the child-teacher scenarios omitted, a priori hypotheses identified 83% of the children at the secure-insecure level. Moreover, specificity improved to 86%, whereas sensitivity dropped only slightly to 83%. In addition, with ad hoc, but rationally consistent, scoring changes, predictability improved to 95%. The PBAR identified three empirically distinguishable response styles, including a secure response style and two others common to the. main insecurely attached (A and C) groups of children.

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