The relationship between affect and cognition in maltreated infants: quality of attachment and the development of visual self-recognition.

K. Schneider-Rosen, D. Cicchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


37 19-month-old infants, 18 maltreated and 19 matched lower-class comparisons, were seen in Ainsworth and Wittig 's Strange Situation in order to document the impact that early maltreatment by the mother has on the attachment relationship. In addition, these infants were observed in the standard mirror-and- rouge paradigm to investigate the hypothesis that individual differences in the emergence of the capacity for visual self-recognition could be related to qualitative differences in the attachment relationship. Consistent with predictions from attachment theory, maltreated infants were found to manifest a significantly greater proportion of insecure attachments than were nonmaltreated infants. When data for the entire sample of infants were analyzed, it was found that those infants who evidenced visual self-recognition were significantly more likely to be securely attached to their mothers. However, a separate analysis of the maltreated and comparison groups of infants revealed a different pattern of results. 90% of the nonmaltreated infants who recognized themselves were securely attached to their caregivers. In contrast, for those maltreated infants who recognized themselves, there was no significant relationship between this capacity and qualitative differences in the security of attachment. Furthermore, an analysis of the affective responses of the infants to their rough-marked noses revealed that nonmaltreated infants were more likely to show an increase in positive affect following the application of rouge , whereas maltreated infants manifested neutral or negative reactions. These results demonstrate that early maltreatment may have deleterious effects for the infant, independent of those risk factors commonly associated with lower-class membership. In addition, they underscore the impact of maltreatment upon the successful achievement of salient developmental tasks and upon the relationship between affective and cognitive development in the maltreated infant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-658
Number of pages11
JournalChild development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1984
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The relationship between affect and cognition in maltreated infants: quality of attachment and the development of visual self-recognition.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this