Are fathers important in attachment?


Are fathers important in attachment?


  • Suggests fathers are important as attachment figures
  • Grossman (2002) - the quality of fathers play with infants is related to the quality of adolescent attachments; suggesting fathers have a different roll in attachment - one that is less linked to nurture and more linked to play.
  • There are studies that show that when fathers take on the role of being the main caregiver, they will take on more maternal traits. Field (1978) filmed four month old babies face-to-face with primary caregivers and secondary caregivers. Primary carers were more likely to smile, imitate and entertain the babies compared to the secondary. They key attachment is not based on the gender, but is based on the role.


  • Suggests fathers are not particularly important as attachment figures
  • Grossman (2002) - Quality of infant attachment with mothers is related to children's attachment in adolescence, suggesting that father attachments are less important.
  • The study by Grossman found that fathers as a secondary attachment figure had an important role, but other studies found that children growing up with same sex parents will not develop any differently than those growing up with heterosexual parents, suggesting that the fathers role as a secondary attachment figure is not important.

Overall comparison

- There is inconsistent findings on fathers; some psychologists are interested in the father as a secondary attachment figure, whereas others are concerned about the father as a primary attachment figure. This is a problem, as it means psychologists can't answer the question easily; there are multiple perspectives to the question. - Research into mother-infant relationships is socially sensitive because it suggests children may be disadvantaged by particular child-rearing practices. In particular, mothers who return to work quickly. 


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