The insightfulness assessment: Measuring the internal processes underlying maternal sensitivity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


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
Title of host publicationMaternal Sensitivity
Subtitle of host publicationMary Ainsworth's Enduring Influence on Attachment Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781317608868
ISBN (Print)9781138810716
StatePublished - 14 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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