Infant temperament and maternal sensitivity as predictors of attachment security

Amy Susman-Stillman, Mark Kalkoske, Byron Egeland, Irwin Waldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


This study investigated contributions of infant irritability, sociability, and maternal sensitivity to attachment security in a high-risk sample. Moderator, mediator, and additive models tested hypotheses that maternal sensitivity determines security and that temperament influences type of insecurity and subcategory placement. Composite measures of temperament and observational ratings of maternal sensitivity at 0-3 and 6 months predicted 12-month attachment classifications and subcategory placement. Interaction of 3-month maternal sensitivity and infant irritability predicted security (moderator model). Six-month sensitivity independently predicted security (additive model) and mediated the relation between irritability and security (mediator model). Maternal sensitivity distinguished secure and insecure infants. Three- and 6-month temperament independently predicted type of insecurity and subcategory placement. An integrative conceptualization of attachment and temperament is supported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-47
Number of pages15
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Portions of these data were presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies, May 1992, and the meeting of the American Psychological Society, June 1993. This research was partially supported by a National Institute of Mental Health Child Development Training Grant to AX The authors would like to thank Megan Gunnar and Alan Sroufe for their thoughtful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript, John Ogawa for helpful statistical advice, and Cheryl Gfrerer for superb editorial assistance.


  • Attachment
  • Maternal sensitivity
  • Parent-child relations
  • Temperament


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