Professional decisions made by social workers regarding infant-mother attachment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which social workers rely on professional as opposed to nonprofessional criteria in their decision-making regarding the quality of mother-child interaction. Ninety social workers observed the same video tapes displaying an infant interacting with its mother in the Strange Situation procedure, but were given different background material regarding the child's family. A third of the subjects received negative background information in advance of their viewing the film, another third received positive information, and the final third formed a control group and were given no advance information. After viewing the video tapes, subjects were asked to assess infant behavior, maternal behaviors and the quality of motherinfant relationship. Results clearly indicated that the social workers who were told that the family was neglectful were more inclined than the others to describe negatively both the child and the mother as well as their relationship. The findings underscore the need for greater awareness among social workers concerning the influence of bias involved in professional decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-459
Number of pages21
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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