Date of Award

Fall 1981

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Infants have what appears to be an insatiable quest for information and new experience. This curiosity can greatly enhance the entire process of development if it is properly encouraged and reinforced. Research has indicated that mothers who are most successful at this task are those who are accessible, attentive, sensitive and responsive. These mothers also tend to have a more positive perception about their own control over their environment. Through interactions with their infants, these mothers are able to establish a series of behavioral expectancies which may not only influence the infant's perception of the environment, but may also pervade the entire child-rearing process. The primary objective of this study was to observe the incidence of exploratory behavior in 12-month-old infants and to examine the extent to which this was related to maternal perception of locus of control. This was accomplished by having 32 mother-infant pairs participate in the laboratory strange situation procedure. During these sessions, infant exploratory behavior was observed as the infant, mother, and a stranger moved through an established series of episodes designed to activate infant exploratory behavior at varying levels of intensity. Infant scores were dichotomized as Internal or External based on mother's scores on the Rotter Locus of Control Inventory. Data was analyzed using a 2 x 7 repeated measures analysis of variance dichotomized according to locus of control scores with repeated measures on the seven applicable episodes of the strange situation procedure. Both the main effects and the interaction were tested using F-ratios to determine whether the results were significant at the .05 level. Results indicated that the effect of episodes was concurrent with results obtained by Ainsworth and other strange situation researchers and was in this case significant above the .001 level. The other main effect of internality-externality of subjects, as well as the interaction did not produce values of F sufficient enough to be significant at the .05 level, hence the null hypothesis that there is no statistically significant relationship between the level of infant exploratory behavior and maternal locus of control was retained.



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