The insightfulness assessment: Measuring the internal processes underlying maternal sensitivity

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Abstract

In her description of sensitive mothers, Ainsworth described not only maternal behaviors but also the internal processes underlying such behavior, including the capacity to "see things from the child's point of view". Ainsworth assessed this capacity from her extensive observations of mothers interacting with their infants, from records of mothers' talk to the babies, and from brief interviews about their babies. Attachment researchers following Ainsworth focused primarily on observations of maternal sensitive behavior, however, and the processes underlying such behavior were mostly inferred from the mothers' behavior. The Insightfulness Assessment (IA), a video replay procedure in which mothers are interviewed regarding their children's thoughts and feelings after they watch brief video clips of their children, was developed to assess systematically and directly the mother's ability to take the child's perspective. This paper uses examples from the IA to show how it captures many of the internal processes underlying caregiving behavior which Ainsworth described. Data supporting the IA's validity is reviewed, which suggest that the IA can complement observations of mothers' caregiving behavior in order to obtain a more comprehensive assessment of maternal sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-561
Number of pages17
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Volume15
Issue number5-6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • attachment
  • insightfulness
  • sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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