Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Chibucos, Thomas R.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Home Economics


Father and child; Infant psychology


A longitudinal design was used 1) to determine whether there is a significant relationship between early (2 months) quality of father-infant interaction and later (7-1/2 months) quality of attachment, and 2) to examine the stability of quality of interaction between fathers and infants. The subjects were 19 infants (12 boys and 7 girls) and their fathers who took part in two observation sessions. The first session, when the infant was two months old, consisted of a 15 minute observation of father-infant interaction. The second session, when the infant was seven and one-half months old, consisted of a 15 minute observation session of father-infant interaction and a 4 minute observation of father-infant attachment. All observations took place in a laboratory. Quality of interaction was determined in two ways: 1) ratings of interaction in terms of sensitivity of father, playfulness of father, initiation of father-infant interaction by father, intensity of infant's response to father, and quality of interaction between father and infant; and 2) the amount of touching, face-to-face looking, and vocalizing between the father and the infant during each session. Quality of attachment was determined by using a modification of the Ainsworth scoring system for interactive behaviors. Following a 2-minute separation the infant-father dyad was rated on: 1) proximity and contactseeking behavior, 2) contact-maintaining behavior, 3) contact and interaction-resisting behavior, 4) proximity and interaction-avoiding behavior. The father-infant dyads were then ranked according to the infant's degree of security of attachment. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were calculated using the attachment and interaction scores. The results partially supported the hypothesis that quality of father-infant interaction at two months was correlated significantly with the quality of father-infant attachment at seven and one-half months. Also, there was evidence for the consistency between quality of father-infant interaction at two months and at seven and one-half months. The study was also successful in giving researchers a reliable, observational method to study quality of developing relationships between infants and fathers. Finally, the present study examined the process of development of father-infant attachment by assessing the relationship between early interactive behaviors and later attachment behaviors. Future studies should involve a more in-depth look at developing father-infant social processes by using multiple assessments of behaviors at several time periods prior to attachment formation.


vi, 66 pages




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