Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Hakim-Larson, J.


Psychology, Clinical.




The purpose of this study was to investigate the possible association among a mother' s perception of her attachment to caregivers when growing up and her current self-system, view of relationships with others, and the social competence of her preschooler. The following variables (and measures) were used: (a) perception of attachment to caregivers when growing up (current revision of the Parental Caregiving Style Questionnaire; Hazan & Shaver, 1986); (b) self-esteem (the Multidimensional Self-esteem Inventory; O'Brien & Epstein, 1988); (c) social support (the Social Support Questionnaire; Sarason, 1986); (d) perception of security of adult romantic relationships (revised version of the Adult Attachment Style Questionnaire; Simpson, 1990); (e) perceived security of parent-child relationship (the revised version of the Attachment Behavior Q-set; Waters, 1986); and (f) social competence of the participants' preschoolers (using teacher-completed Social Competence Scale; Kohn, 1988). The current study also attempted to address the role that other caregivers (e.g., grandparents, child-care providers) may play in shaping attachment experiences. Participants were mothers (N = 80) of preschool aged children who were developmentally intact and did not have histories of adjustment difficulties. Participants reporting having had a secure attachment to father and an insecure attachment to mother obtained the highest scores on global self-esteem, body appearance, body functioning, moral self-approval, and self-control while those who had an insecure attachment to both parents obtained the lowest scores on these five scales. Reported security of attachment to father was also positively related to defensive self-enhancement and identity integration and those who reported having had a secure attachment to both parents obtained the highest scores on the lovability scale. Participants who perceived their early childhood attachment to mother as secure were more satisfied with available sources of social support and perceived the relationship with their preschooler as relatively more secure than those reporting having had an insecure attachment to mother. Those women who reported a secure attachment to father and an insecure attachment to mother when growing up obtained lower scores on the avoidant adult attachment style (i.e., showed less avoidance in these relationships) than those with an insecure attachment to both caregivers. Moreover, security of childhood attachment to father was associated with perceived security in adult romantic relationships. These findings are generally consistent with both attachment theory and a growing body of empirical work suggesting that early childhood experiences are associated with one' s self-concept and view of self in relation to others. However, the results showing that parents seem to influence the childhood attachment relationship in different ways were unexpected. Finally, in contrast to some previous research findings, preschoolers of participants reporting a secure attachment to caregivers were not found to be more socially competent in a preschool setting than children of participants with an insecure attachment to caregivers. Based on the findings of the present study, measurement issues and directions for future research are discussed.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1996 .V44. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 59-08, Section: B, page: 4491. Adviser: Julie Hakim-Larson. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1996.