Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Attachment and dependency are two important related infant-mother relationships which develop in the first year of life. Attachment has been defined as an affectional bond that one person forms to another specific individual which is both discriminating and enduring. Dependency, on the other hand, has been defined as a class of behaviors learned in the context of the infant's dependency relationship with his mother, reinforced in the course of her care of him and generalized to other caretakers. Operationally, attachment has been defined by proximity- seeking while dependency has been defined by attention-seeking. The purpose of the present study was to examine the interrelationship of dependency, attachment and exploration utilizing the laboratory strange situation procedure. This procedure was devised by Ainsworth and Wittig (1969), to explicate the relationship between attachment and exploration. It consisted of eight episodes in which infant-exploratory and attachment behaviors could be observed prior to, during and after separation from mother. For this study a further episode was added in which the mother was occupied. Attention-seeking behavior could only occur in this episode.

Specific hypotheses included: (a) There were no sex differences expected for any of the dependent variables. Groups classified according to quality of attachment were expected to (b) differ in the number and type of attention-seeking behaviors exhibited, (c) differ in the number of exploratory behaviors exhibited prior to and following mother separations, (c) correlate with maternal employment.

To test these hypotheses, 36 one-year-old infants were observed with their mothers in the modified laboratory strange situation. These observations of exploratory and attachment behaviors were coded and summed, obtaining frequencies for each episode. Also, five categories of infant-mother interaction were coded and scaled. For analysis purposes, nine episodes of the strange situation were combined into four logically consistent phases, I Mother Present, II Separation, III Reunion and IV Mother Occupied.

Analyses of variance with repeated measures of the exploratory behaviors across the phases indicated that neither sex of the infant or maternal employment were differentially associated with these exploratory measures., but that frequency of exploration differed across the experimental phases. Groups classified according to quality of attachment were not found to explore differentially at a significant level although the trend of the data indicated consistent patterns. Also, these groups were not found to be related to maternal employment.

Attention-seeking was operationally defined by two separate types, proximal and distal. These were found to be independent of each other and to show differing patterns of relationships to attachment and exploratory behaviors as well as with quality of attachment. It was proposed that proximal and distal attention-seeking may be, in fact, operational definitions for two types of dependency, emotional and instrumental, respectively. Therefore, at the age of one proximal attention-seeking is another behavioral indication of attachment while distal attention-seeking represents dependence.