Does attachment influence learning? An investigation in to the associations between attachment, executive function and academic attainment

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Lindsey Foy
Submitted: June 2016


In the field of psychology there is a growing interest in the relationship between early experiences and neurocognitive development (Schore & Schore, 2008). It has been suggested that early attachment experiences influence the development of a group of cognitive processes known as executive functions (e.g. Bernier, Carlson & Whipple, 2010). This thesis investigates the association between attachment styles and executive function in children and adolescents. Chapters one and two focus on different age groups. The literature review in chapter one explores the existing studies that consider this relationship in children aged 12 months to 11 years. A number of methodological issues in assessing the association between attachment and executive function are identified and discussed. The empirical paper in chapter two examines the associations between attachment, executive function and academic attainment in early adolescence aged 11 years to 14 years. Students (N=32) completed an attachment questionnaire, three executive function tasks and an IQ test. The results demonstrated an association between executive functions and academic attainment. However, the associations between attachment and executive functions did not reach significance and attachment was not found to influence academic attainment indirectly via executive function. The findings are discussed in terms of future research and implications for professional practice.

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