Infants, Mothers, Families, and Strangers

  • Ross A. Thompson
  • Michael E. Lamb
Part of the Genesis of Behavior book series (GOBE, volume 4)


Developmental theorists have long viewed the infant-mother relationship as a crucial determinant of early socioemotional development (e.g., Ainsworth, 1967, 1973; Bowlby, 1969; Erikson, 1963; Freud, 1938; Maccoby and Masters, 1970; Sears, Maccoby, and Levin, 1957). Mother-infant interactions comprise a major part of the average infant’s everyday experiences, and they occur in contexts that are likely to be especially important to the baby, such as feeding, the relief of distress, and play. Thus it seems likely that the infant-mother relationship would have a greater direct influence on infants than other early relationships, at least in traditional families. This does not mean, however, that the infant-mother relationship is exclusively important. Other partners also provide valuable experiences, ranging from the physically arousing stimulation provided by fathers (Lamb, 1977, 1981b) to the give-and-take interactions provided by peers (Lewis, Young, Brooks, and Michalson, 1975; Mueller and Vandell, 1979). Furthermore, events outside the mother-infant dyad-like the father’s presence (Lamb, 1979) or supportiveness (Pedersen, 1981)-affect the quality of the interactions shared by infant and mother. For these reasons, it is unwise to view the infant-mother relationship without considering the broader socioemotional context within which their interactions occur (Lewis and Rosenblum, 1978).


Child Development Attachment Relationship Family Event Attachment Status Family Circumstance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ainsworth, M. D. S. Infancy in Uganda: Infant care and the growth of love. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M. D. S. The development of infant-mother attachment. In: B. Caldwell and H. Ricciuti (Eds.), Review of child development research (Vol. 3 ). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  3. Ainsworth, M. D. S., & Bell, S. M. Some contemporary patterns of mother-infant interaction in the feeding situation. In: A. Ambrose (Ed.), Stimulation in early infancy. London and New York: Academic Press, 1969.Google Scholar
  4. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Bell, S. M., & Stayton, D. J. Individual differences in strange-situation behavior of one-year-olds. In: H. R. Schaffer (Eds.), The origins of human social relations. London and New York: Academic Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  5. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. Patterns of attachment. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1978.Google Scholar
  6. Arend, R., Gove, F. L., & Sroufe, L. A. Continuity of individual adaptation from infancy to kindergarten: A predictive study of ego-resiliency and curiosity in preschoolers. Child Development, 1979, 50, 950–959.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beckwith, L. Relationships between infants’ social behavior and their mothers’ behavior. Child Development, 1972, 43, 397–411.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Blehar, M. C., Lieberman, A. F., & Ainsworth, M. D. S. Early face-to-face interaction and its relation to later infant-mother attachment. Child Development, 1977, 48, 182–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowlby, J. Attachment and loss, Vol. 1: Attachment. New York: Basic Books, 1969.Google Scholar
  10. Clarke-Stewart, K. A., Umeh, B. J., Snow, M.E., & Pederson, J. A. Development and prediction of children’s sociability from 1 to 21 years. Developmental Psychology, 1980, 16, 290–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Connell, D. B. Individual differences in attachment: An investigation into stability, implications, and relationships to structure of early language development. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, 1976.Google Scholar
  12. Easterbrooks, M. A., & Lamb, M. E. The relationship between quality of infant-mother attachment and infant competence in inital encounters with peers. Child Development, 1979, 50, 380–387.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Erikson, E. Childhood and society ( 2nd ed. ). New York: Norton, 1963.Google Scholar
  14. Estes, D., Lamb, M. E., Thompson, R. A., & Dickstein, S. Maternal affective quality and security of attachment at 12 and 19 months. Paper presented to the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, April 1981.Google Scholar
  15. Freud, S. An outline of psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth, 1938.Google Scholar
  16. Garbarino, J. and Sherman, D. High-risk neighborhoods and high-risk families: The human ecology of child maltreatment. Child Development, 1980, 51, 188–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Harmon, R. J., Morgan, G. A., & Klein, R. P. Determinants of normal variation in infants’ negative reactions to unfamiliar adults. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 1977, 16, 670–683.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hollingshead, A. B. Four-factor index of social status. Unpublished manuscript, Yale University, 1975.Google Scholar
  19. Lamb, M. E. Father-infant and mother-infant interaction in the first year of life. Child Development, 1977, 48, 167–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lamb, M. E. The effects of the social context on dyadic social interaction. In: M. E. Lamb, S. J. Suomi, and G. R. Stephenson (Eds.), Social interaction analysis. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  21. Lamb, M. E. Developing trust and perceived effectance in infancy. In: L. P. Lipsitt (Ed.), Advances in infancy research (Vol. 2 ). Norwood, N.J.: Ablex, 1981.Google Scholar
  22. Lamb, M. E. The development of father-infant relationships. In: M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (rev. ed.). New York: Wiley, 1981.Google Scholar
  23. Lamb, M. E. The development of social expectations in the first year of life. In: M. E. Lamb and L. Sherrod (Eds.), Infant social cognition. Hilsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1981.Google Scholar
  24. Lamb, M. E. The origins of individual differences in infant sociability and their implications for cognitive development. In: H. W. Reese and L. P. Lipsitt (Eds.), Advances in child development and behavior (Vol. 16 ). New York: Academic Press, 1982.Google Scholar
  25. Lamb, M. E., Chase-Lansdale, L., & Owen, M. T. The changing American family and its implications for infant social development: The sample case of maternal employment. In: M. Lewis and L. Rosenblum, (Eds.), The child and its family. New York: Plenum Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  26. Lamb, M. E., Owen, M. T., & Chase-Lansdale, L. The working mother in the intact family: A process model. In: R. R. Abidin (Ed.), Parent education and intervention handbook. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas, 1980.Google Scholar
  27. Lewis, M., & Rosenblum, L. A. (Eds.). The development of affect. New York: Plenum Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  28. Lewis, M., Young, G., Brooks, J., & Michalson, L. The beginning of friendship. In: M. Lewis and L. A. Rosenblum (Eds.), Friendship and peer relations. New York: Wiley, 1975.Google Scholar
  29. Lieberman, A. F. Preschoolers’ competence with a peer: Relations with attachment and peer experience. Child Development, 1977, 48, 1277–1287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Maccoby, E. E., & Masters, J. C. Attachment and dependency. In: P. H. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichael’s manual of child psychology (Vol. 2 ). New York: Wiley, 1970.Google Scholar
  31. Mahler, M. A., Pine, F., & Bergman, A. The psychological birth of the human infant. New York: Basic Books, 1975.Google Scholar
  32. Main, M. Exploration, play, and cognitive functioning as related to child-mother attachment. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Johns Hopkins University, 1973.Google Scholar
  33. Main, M., & Weston, D. R. The quality of the toddler’s relationship to mother and to father: Related to conflict behavior and the readiness to establish new relationships. Child Development, 1981, 52, 932–940.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Main, M., Tomasini, L., & Tolan, W. Differences among mothers of infants judged to differ in security. Developmental Psychology, 1979, 15, 472–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Masters, J. C., & Wellman, H. W. The study of human infant attachment: A procedural critique. Psychological Bulletin, 1974, 81, 218–237.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Matas, L., Arend, R., & Sroufe, L. A. Continuity of adaptation in the second year: The relationship between quality of attachment and later competence. Child Development, 1978, 49, 547–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Morgan, G., & Ricciuti, H. Infants’ responses to strangers during the first year. In: B. M. Foss (Ed.), Determinants of infant behavior (Vol. 4 ). London: Methuen, 1969.Google Scholar
  38. Mueller, E. C., & Vandell, D. Infant-infant interaction. In: J. D. Osofsky (Ed.), Handbook of infant development. New York: Wiley, 1979.Google Scholar
  39. Parke, R.D., & Collmer, C. W. Child abuse: An interdisciplinary analysis. In: E. M. Hetherington (Ed.), Review of child development research (Vol. 5 ). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.Google Scholar
  40. Pastor, D. L. The quality of mother-infant attachment and its relationship to toddlers’ initial sociability with peers. Developmental Psychology, 1981, 17, 326–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pedersen, F. A. Father influences viewed in a family context. In: M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (rev. ed.). New York: Wiley, 1981.Google Scholar
  42. Sears, R. R., Maccoby, E. E., & Levin, H. Patterns of child rearing. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1957.Google Scholar
  43. Sroufe, L. A. Wariness of strangers and the study of infant development. Child Development, 1977, 48, 731–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sroufe, L. A. Attachment and the roots of competence. Human Nature, 1978, 1 (10), 50–57.Google Scholar
  45. Sroufe, L. A. The coherence of individual development: Early care, attachment, and subsequent developmental issues. American Psychologist, 1979, 34, 834–841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sroufe, L. A., & Waters, E. Attachment as an organizational construct. Child Development, 1977, 48, 1184–1199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stayton, D. J., & Ainsworth, M. D. S. Individual differences in infant responses to brief, everyday separations as related to other infant and maternal behaviors. Developmental Psychology, 1973, 9, 226–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stevenson, M. B., & Lamb, M. E. Effects of infant sociability and the caretaking environment on infant cognitive performance. Child Development, 1979, 50, 340–369.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Stevenson, M. B., & Leavitt, L. A. Associations among temperament, sociability and social experiences in one-year-olds. Paper presented to the biennial meeting of the International Conference for Infant Studies, New Haven, Conn., April 1980.Google Scholar
  50. Thompson, R. A., & Lamb, M. E. Stranger sociability and its relationships to temperament and social experience during the second year. Infant Behavior and Development, 1982, 5, 277–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Thompson, R.A., Lamb, M. E., & Estes, D. Stability of infant-mother attachment and its relationship to changing life circumstances in an unselected middle-class sample. Child Development, 1982, 53, 144–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thompson, R. A., Lamb, M.E., & Estes, D. Harmonizing discordant notes: A reply to Waters. Child Development, 1983, 54, 521–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vaughn, B., Egeland, B., Sroufe, L. A., & Waters, E. Individual differences in infant-mother attachment at twelve and eighteen months: Stability and change in families under stress. Child Development, 1979, 50, 971–975.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Waters, E. The reliability and stability of individual differences in infant-mother attachment. Child Development, 1978, 49, 483–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Waters, E. The stability of individual differences in infant attachment: Comments on the Thompson, Lamb, and Estes contribution. Child Development, 1983, 54, 516–520.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Waters, E., Wippman, J., & Sroufe, L. A. Attachment, positive affect, and competence in the peer group: Two studies in construct validation. Child Development, 1979, 50, 821–829.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ross A. Thompson
    • 1
  • Michael E. Lamb
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of NebraskaLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations