Development and Psychopathology


Infant response in the still-face paradigm at 6 months predicts avoidant and secure attachment at 12 months

Jeffrey F. Cohna1 c1, Susan B. Campbella1 c1 and Shelley Rossa1 c1

a1 University of Pittsburgh


We tested the hypothesis that attachment security at 12 months can be predicted from infant response to the mother's still-face interaction during the first half-year. Subjects were 66 primiparous mother-infant pairs drawn from the working- and middle-socioeconomic strata (SES). Half of the mothers had experienced a postpartum depression. Infants were observed longitudinally in the still-face paradigm at 2, 4, and 6 months and in the Strange Situation at 12 months. Positive expressions in response to the still-face at 6 months predicted secure attachment at 12 months. Absence of positive expressions predicted avoidant attachment. In infants of postpartum depressed mothers, hours of nonmaternal care positively correlated with secure attachment. Variables associated with infant proneness to distress and sociability were unrelated to attachment security. These results suggest that attachment formation is underway by 6 months of age and that indicators of 12-month attachment security can be detected as early as 6 months. Similar mechanisms of affect regulation and coping may underlie infant response in the still-face and Strange Situation procedures.


c1 Address reprint requests to: J. F. Cohn, S. B. Campbell, or S. Ross, University of Pittsburgh, Clinical Psychology Program, 4015 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.