Preferred Name

Somer George

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Lennis G. Echterling

Anne Stewart

Jeanne Horst

William Whelan



The study of attachment in middle childhood, especially among foster and adoptive children, is a critical and timely one. An assessment that helps us understand the behavioral manifestations of attachment for these children, while considering the link with caregiving behavior and parental reflective functioning (PRF) can help to provide effective and efficient intervention leading to security and relational healing. This study examines the attachment patterns of 39 foster and adopted children (ages six to twelve) in the Modified Strange Situation Procedure (MSSP), with their caregivers. Association with caregiving patterns, PRF, and caregiver reported child behavior are analyzed using Pearson’s Chi-Square. There was a significant association between child attachment classification and caregiver classification in the MSSP. There were also significant associations between child attachment classification in the MSSP and PRF on the Parent Development Interview (PDI), as well as caregiver classification on the MSSP and PRF. We also found that child externalizing behavior was related to child attachment classification, caregiver classification and degree of caregiver PRF. These results are strong and provide preliminary validity data for use of the MSSP with children in middle childhood. They also reveal the importance of observing both child and caregiver behavior, while considering PRF in developing effective intervention with this vulnerable population.

Keywords: attachment, middle childhood, foster children, adopted children, observation, assessment, caregiving, parental reflective functioning, externalizing behavior, internalizing behavior



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