Thomas G. O’Connor is Professor and Director of the Wynne Center for Family Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester. After receiving his PhD from the University of Virginia (1995) and completing his clinical training at the George Washington University Medical Center, he took a post at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. He returned to the US and has been at Rochester since 2003. He is a clinical psychologist by training with a long history of clinical research on the mechanisms of early stress exposure, including prenatal exposure, on child behavior and biology. He employs observational, clinical and randomized trial designs and his work has been/is funded by research councils in the UK, Canada and the US and many foundations. His current NIH-funded work is supported by NIMH, NICHD, NIDCR, NIEHS, NINR and the Office of the Director.
Attachment in infants and young children: Siblings, context, and biology
Recent research findings illustrate many ways in which attachment theory and methods have expanded in diverse directions. First, for example, research now routinely examines a broader social, relationship, and familial context of attachment relationships. Studies of attachment similarities between siblings has, for examined, raised valuable opportunities to consider both the influence of the broader family context and of biology (most especially genetics), and their intersection. Second, longitudinal studies of attachment underscore the need for additional, further refinement of how attachment relationship quality is assessed in adolescence, and the nature of adolescent-parent attachment. Third, research from randomized controlled trials suggest that attachment quality is a natural target for intervention, and that it may be improved using a surprising variety of intervention approaches. Fourth, attachment research increasingly incorporates a model of relationships being affected by, and moderating, biological risk. That has placed the study of attachment directly within the purview of research on physical health to complement the prior research on behavioral and mental health. Each of these sets of ideas and findings will be reviewed and integrated in this lecture.