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Do Infant Faces Maintain the Attention of Adults With High Avoidant Attachment?

We investigated whether adults have attentional bias toward infant faces, whether it is moderated by infant facial expression, and the predictive effect of the adult attachment state on it. One hundred unmarried nulliparous college students [50 men and 50 women; aged 17–24 years (M = 19.70, SD = 1.35)] were recruited. Each completed a self-report questionnaire—the Chinese version of the State Adult Attachment Measure (SAAM), and a dot-probe task with a stimulus presentation duration of 500 ms, which used 192 black-and-white photographs of 64 people (32 infants and 32 adults; each person displayed three expressions: happy, neutral, and sad) as the experimental stimuli. The results showed that, at the duration of 500 ms, individuals’ attentional bias toward infant faces disappeared, regardless of the facial expression. However, when the interaction between avoidant attachment state and face was controlled, the attentional bias was significant again, and the avoidant attachment state negatively predicted individuals’ attentional bias toward infant faces. This indicates that at the suprathreshold stage, there are individual differences in the attentional bias toward infant faces, and high avoidant attachment will weaken individuals’ attentional bias toward infant faces. This study advances previous studies that focused only on individuals’ attention to infant faces occurring at the early processing stage of attention. The results provide direction for interventions; specifically, changing the attachment state of avoidant individuals can affect their attention to infants, which may promote the establishment of parent–child relationships.

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