Heidi Bailey, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, has been awarded a three-year SSHRC Standard Research Grant to further her research on parent-child attachment relationships, using physiological measures to test fundamental assumptions of attachment theory.
Preliminary research on infant's heart rate in response to moderate attachment-related stress has supported the premise that infants in secure attachment relationships cope optimally with stress, whereas infants who have failed to develop an organized attachment strategy experience a heightened reaction to stress. Attachment theory holds that parents play a critical role in fostering early attachment relationships; however, links between maternal behaviour and attachment typically have been modest, and little is known about the physiological responses of mothers to their infant's stress.
Dr. Bailey's research will seek to provide a better understanding of how children learn to cope with stress, and will form a foundation for future interventions in support of mothers and infants at risk for failing to develop organized attachment relationships.
Dr. Bailey will be conducting her research in her newly renovated laboratory funded by Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ministry of Research and Innovation.