Turkish mothers' attachment orientations and mental representations of their children

Sumer N., Sakman E., HARMA M., Savas O.

JOURNAL OF REPRODUCTIVE AND INFANT PSYCHOLOGY, vol.34, no.1, pp.49-63, 2016 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 34 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/02646838.2015.1092020
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.49-63


Objective: This study aims to investigate a group of Turkish mothers' internal working models and their critical correlates, including their self-reported attachment orientations and their children's problem behaviours. Background: The mental representations that mothers hold for their children are a valuable source of information for caregiving behaviours, yet they have seldom been investigated in non-Western cultures. In order to examine the role of mothers' mental representations in children's behavioural outcomes with a cultural perspective, we adapted the Working Model of the Child Interview (WMCI) into Turkish, and then examined its predictive power. Considering culture-specific caregiving characteristics, we expected that the mental representations mothers have for their children would be systematically associated with their attachment avoidance rather than attachment anxiety in the Turkish context. Furthermore, maternal education was also hypothesised to be a critical factor in the mental representations of the mothers. Methods: First, mothers (N = 30) were interviewed using the WMCI by two trained researchers, and then they were asked to complete the measures of adult attachment and child adjustment. Results: The findings supported the validity of the WMCI in Turkey and demonstrated that the distribution of mothers in balanced, disengaged and distorted categories was similar to those found in Western cultures. As expected, mothers' attachment orientations, especially attachment avoidance, and maternal education were significantly associated with the mental representations they hold for their children. Conclusion: Mothers' attachment avoidance and low level of maternal education appeared to be the critical risk factors for their mental representations about their children. The findings were discussed considering culture-specific aspects of maternal representations, attachment orientations and caregiving behaviours.