Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Lori A. Roggman


Lori A. Roggman


Thomas R. Lee


Kaelin M. Olsen


Secure infant attachment is important for the positive social-emotional development of children. Many parents have limited understanding of social-emotional development and the influence of appropriate responsive parenting behaviors to their infants’ cues. For example, many parents believe you can spoil an infant if you pick them up every time they cry. Researchers study the impact of positive responses to infants’ cues. Infants form a more secure attachment and learn to interpret the world as a safe place for exploration when parents respond to their signs of distress. In contrast, infants reared with authoritarian parenting styles of strict compliance and harsh punishment develop more insecure attachments. This study measured undergraduate students’ beliefs about spoiling children, child obedience, and parental responsiveness and examined changes in beliefs after instruction in the principles of attachment and the role of caregiver responsiveness in the formation of secure attachment. First, a pretest was administered followed by 1 to 2 hours of in class instruction regarding attachment theory. Next, a posttest was given to determine if in-class instruction had an effect on students’ attitudes regarding spoiling children, child obedience, and parental responsiveness. Students’ beliefs about spoiling children were associated with attitudes about child obedience and parent responsiveness, and students changed their attitudes about spoiling and responsiveness, although not obedience, after instruction. Young adults who have developed an understanding of parental responsiveness and have decreased their fears of spoiling children have the potential to be able to implement more developmentally supportive practices in their own lives as future parents and practitioners in the field of child development.




This work made publicly available electronically on May 9, 2012.