Paternal stimulation and father-infant attachment

Anna L. Olsavsky, Miranda N. Berrigan, Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, Geoffrey L. Brown, Claire M. Kamp Dush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study examined the longitudinal associations between fathers’ observed parenting behaviors and father-infant attachment (n = 58 father-infant dyads). Fathers were observed playing with their infants at 9 months postpartum and were assessed for stimulating behaviors (i.e. physical and/or object stimulation), as well as their sensitivity and intrusiveness. When the infants were 12 to 18 months of age, fathers and infants participated together in the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) to assess father-infant attachment security. Logistic regression analyses revealed that higher levels of paternal stimulation at 9 months postpartum were associated with greater odds of classification as a secure father-infant dyad. Additionally, fathers’ observed intrusiveness at 9 months postpartum moderated this association; greater paternal stimulation was associated with significantly greater odds of father-infant attachment security at low and average levels of paternal intrusiveness, but not at high levels of paternal intrusiveness. This study provides new insight into the paternal behaviors that may foster secure father-infant attachment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The New Parents Project was funded by the National Science Foundation (CAREER 0746548, Schoppe-Sullivan), with additional support from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD; 1K01HD056238, Kamp Dush), Ohio State University’s Institute for Population Research (NICHD R24HD058484), and Human Development and Family Science program. We thank the participating families, as well as those who contributed to recruitment, data collection, scale development and coding, especially Meghan A. Breedlove, Susan C. Johnson, Letitia E. Kotila, and Sarah N. Lang.


  • Father-infant attachment
  • father-child play
  • intrusiveness
  • sensitivity
  • stimulation

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

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