ellen moss
 
Research

Research

 
 
Our research program examines the role of attachment relationships in predicting academic and behavioral adaptation and the development and testing of attachment-based intervention strategies. Study of the relation between attachment and development during the preschool period and beyond is a relatively new field requiring both theoretical and empirical clarification. On a theoretical level, our research program focuses on elaborating Bowlby's ideas concerning the impact of affective relationships on social and cognitive functioning beyond the infancy period. This has involved identifying at risk groups based on the type of attachment pattern established with the primary caregiver at preschool, school age and adolescence, and specifying mediating and moderating variables involved in the developmental pathways to risk and resilience for children with qualitatively different parent-child relationships. On an empirical level, this has entailed validation of attachment measures for preschoolers, school-age children, and adolescents and measurement of family process and child/adolescent individual patterns, hypothesized to be associated with both attachment and adaptation. The objective of the next phase of study is to continue investigating these questions by following our longitudinal sample into the adult period. Application of results of the research program have led to more precise and earlier identification of at-risk children and specification of maladaptation, and elaboration of multidimensional intervention strategies, which take into account key family and individual processes. IN collaboration with We have just completed a study which In the context of our current grants, we are expanding our understanding of the degree of risk associated with different attachment patterns and both the family and self processes which mediate the risk pathway.  This longitudinal research program is the largest and most comprehensive current study of correlates of preschool and school-age attachment in the world. Completion of the late adolescent phase will complete the study.  On both a scientific and practical level, our research program should lead to greater understanding of the role played by parent-child relationships in contributing to child success at school in both behavioral and academic domains. The findings should impact on both furthering basic knowledge about relevant family and individual processes as well as the development of intervention programs. Although a number of studies have independently shown empirical relations between the socio affective quality of parent child relationships and various components of school adaptation, there has been little effort to develop a theoretical framework which might both integrate past findings and orient future research. Attachment theory offers a solid theoretical and empirical framework to study the role of family and self processes (i.e. parent-child interactions and child conceptions of self) which underlie the development of school related difficulties. By studying these variables, we can not only further basic knowledge but also inform educational practice through: 1) more precise and earlier identification of at risk children and specification of type of maladaptation; 2) understanding how family relationships facilitate or interfere with classroom adaptation. Attachment based intervention programs should help increase child competence and facilitate parental involvement and responsiveness.