Diane Benoit

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (38)73.17 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the current study was to increase understanding of how victimization history impacts the longitudinal course of depression and anxiety in a sample of 55 adolescents emerging into parenthood. Adolescents were interviewed about their victimization experiences during their second trimester of pregnancy, and interviews were subsequently classified according the Maltreatment Classification Scale (Barnett, Manly, & Cicchetti, 1993). Adolescents reported on their symptoms of depression and anxiety prenatally and 6 and 12 months postpartum. Growth curve modeling revealed that, on average, there was a steady linear decline in depression and anxiety symptoms across the transition to parenthood, with a rate of change of 25% and 20%, respectively, from the prenatal assessment to 12 months postpartum. Sexual abuse history attenuated the likelihood of a decrease in depressive symptoms over time. Neglect history was associated with higher prenatal levels of anxiety, as well as a steeper decline in anxiety symptoms over time. Future research is needed to determine the role of poly-victimization in predicting the onset and change of depression and anxiety symptoms. Findings from the current study have the potential to aid in the design of preventative and intervention efforts to reduce risks of mental health difficulties in adolescent parents.
    Child Abuse & Neglect 05/2014; · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies have demonstrated associations between alexithymia, adult attachment styles, personality traits, and relationship adjustment. Only two studies, however, have explored associations between alexithymia and attachment representations. As part of a larger investigation of maternal and infant attachment, the current study explored this association in a sample of 97 pregnant women; in addition, measures of alexithymia and domains of the five-factor model (FFM) of personality were compared in predicting attachment security, assessed with the Adult Attachment Interview Coherence of Mind mind scale, and perceived relationship adjustment. Alexithymia negatively predicted coherence of mind; the domains of the FFM did not add significantly to the prediction. The Openness-to-Experience domain predicted relationship adjustment better than alexithymia. Contrary to findings from studies that assessed adult attachment styles, coherence of mind was unrelated to relationship adjustment and the FFM. The results suggest that alexithymia does not uniquely predict relationship adjustment beyond the domains of the FFM.
    Comprehensive psychiatry 03/2014; · 2.08 Impact Factor
  • Child Psychopathology: Third Edition, 3 edited by E. Mash & R. Barkely, 01/2014: chapter Disorder and risk for disorder during infancy and toddlerhood: pages 673-736; Guildford Press., ISBN: 978-1-4625-1668-1
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    ABSTRACT: Empirical research supporting the contention that insecure attachment is related to internalizing behaviors has been inconsistent. Across 60 studies including 5,236 families, we found a significant, small to medium effect size linking insecure attachment and internalizing behavior (observed d = .37, 95% CI [0.27, 0.46]; adjusted d = .19, 95% CI [0.09, 0.29]). Several moderator variables were associated with differences in effect size, including concurrent externalizing behavior, gender, how the disorganized category was treated, observation versus questionnaire measures of internalizing behavior, age of attachment assessment, time elapsed between attachment and internalizing measure, and year of publication. The association between avoidant attachment and internalizing behavior was also significant and small to moderate (d = .29, 95% CI [0.12, 0.45]). The effect sizes comparing resistant to secure attachment and resistant to avoidant attachment were not significant. In 20 studies with 2,679 families, we found a small effect size linking disorganized attachment and internalizing behavior (observed d = .20, 95% CI [0.09, 0.31]); however, the effect size was not significant when adjusted for probable publication bias (d = .12, 95% CI [-0.02, 0.23]). The existing literature supports the general notion that insecure attachment relationships in early life, particularly avoidant attachment, are associated with subsequent internalizing behaviors, although effect sizes are not strong. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
    Developmental Psychology 06/2012; · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This present student examines maltreatment experiences reported by 55 high-risk pregnant adolescents in response to a slightly adapted version of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; George, Kaplan, & Main, 1996 ). Previous research has suggested that the rates of unresolved states of mind regarding trauma in response to the AAI may be underestimated due to the lack of direct questions and associated probes regarding physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. We address this concern by including behaviorally phrased questions and probes regarding maltreatment experiences into the original format of the AAI and examine the concordance between reports of maltreatment experiences in response to the AAI and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Maltreatment experiences in response to the AAI were evaluated using the Maltreatment Classification Scale developed by Barnett, Manly, and Cicchetti (1993). We also examine the association between unresolved states of mind and dissociation using the Adolescent Dissociative Experience Scale. Results revealed a significant concordance between reports of maltreatment in response to the AAI and CTQ measures. Reports of maltreatment were prevalent in this sample: across the AAI and CTQ measures, 96% of pregnant adolescents reported some form of emotional abuse, 84% physical abuse, 59% sexual abuse, and 88% reported neglect. Sexual abuse history uniquely predicted unresolved status in response to the AAI. Self-reports of dissociation were significantly associated with unresolved states of mind. Results suggest that the inclusion of behaviorally focused questions and probes regarding maltreatment in the AAI protocol can further contribute to the clinical and theoretical value of this tool.
    Attachment & Human Development 03/2012; 14(2):119-43. · 2.38 Impact Factor
  • Sheri Madigan, Sabrina Voci, Diane Benoit
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    ABSTRACT: The present study assessed the stability of atypical caregiver behaviors over six years. The sample included 81 mother-child dyads (27 children with cystic fibrosis, 27 with congenital heart disease, and 27 healthy controls). Attachment was assessed using the Strange Situation paradigm when the child was one year old. Atypical caregiver behaviors were assessed in the Strange Situation paradigm at one year and again in a reunion episode at seven years of age using the Atypical Maternal Behavior Instrument for Assessment and Classification (AMBIANCE). Stability of atypical caregiver behaviors over six years was established. Atypical caregiver behaviors assessed when the child was one year old were related to infant-caregiver disorganized attachment and were not associated with secure infant-caregiver attachment. The current study identifies that atypical caregiver behaviors remain stable over time which suggests that they could be targeted during interventions aimed at preventing or treating disorganized child-caregiver attachment relationships and associated negative outcomes.
    Attachment & Human Development 05/2011; 13(3):237-52. · 2.38 Impact Factor
  • Infant Mental Health Journal 04/2011; 32(3):286 - 304. · 0.61 Impact Factor
  • Allison Crawford, Diane Benoit
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    ABSTRACT: Infant disorganized attachment is a significant predictor for later psychopathology. The Working Model of the Child Interview (WMCI; C.H. Zeanah, D. Benoit, & M.L. Barton, 1986) elicits and classifies caregivers' perceptions and subjective experience of their child and relationship with the child, which are related to concurrent and future attachment to the caregiver. However, when the WMCI was first developed, the disorganized attachment classification had not been fully developed, so the original WMCI did not include a classification that is linked to disorganized attachment. We adapted the WMCI coding scheme to include items similar to those identified by K. Lyons-Ruth, E. Bronfman, and E. Parsons (using the Atypical Maternal Behavior Instrument for Assessment and Classification, or AMBIANCE, 1999), which reflect disrupted caregiver behaviors associated with disorganized attachment. This resulted in a new WMCI-Disrupted (WMCI-D) scale and classification, disrupted. WMCI-D was used to code 35 WMCIs administered prenatally. A prenatal disrupted classification was significantly associated with caregiver unresolved classification on the Adult Attachment Interview (M. Main, N. Kaplan, & J. Cassidy, 1985), infant disorganized Strange Situation classification (M.D.S. Ainsworth, M.C. Blehar, E. Waters, & S. Wall, 1978), and disrupted caregiver behaviors toward the infant (using AMBIANCE; K. Lyons-Ruth et al., 1999), at infant age 12 months. These data suggest WMCI-D can capture disrupted caregiver internal representations, and identify dyads at risk for disorganized attachment and caregivers with unresolved mourning/trauma. These data also provide evidence for the convergent and predictive validity of the WMCI-D Scale.
    Infant Mental Health Journal 02/2009; 30(2):124 - 144. · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although central to attachment theory, internal working models remain a useful heuristic in need of concretization. We compared the selective attention of organized and disorganized mothers using the emotional Stroop task. Both disorganized attachment and emotional Stroop response involve the coordination of strongly conflicting motivations under conditions of emotional arousal. Furthermore, much is known about the cognitive and neuromodulatory correlates of the Stroop that may inform attempts to substantiate the internal working model construct. We assessed 47 community mothers with the Adult Attachment Interview and the Working Model of the Child Interview in the third trimester of pregnancy. At 6 and 12 months postpartum, we assessed mothers with emotional Stroop tasks involving neutral, attachment, and emotion conditions. At 12 months, we observed their infants in the Strange Situation. Results showed that: disorganized attachment is related to relative Stroop reaction time, that is, unlike organized mothers, disorganized mothers respond to negative attachment/emotion stimuli more slowly than to neutral stimuli; relative speed of response is positively related to number of times the dyad was classified disorganized, and change in relative Stroop response time from 6 to 12 months is related to the match-mismatch status of mother and infant attachment classifications. We discuss implications in terms of automatic and controlled processing and, more specifically, cognitive threat tags, parallel distributed processing, and neuromodulation through norepinephrine and dopamine.
    Development and Psychopathology 02/2009; 21(1):99-126. · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The primary objectives of the current study were: (1)to determine the extent to which caregivers’ conceptualizations of their own attachment history (global attachment representations are congruent with the way in which they conceptualize their relationships with a specific child (relationship-specific attachment representations); and (2)to evaluate whether these relationship-specific representations play a mediating role in the intergenerational transmission of attachment. Prenatal assessments of caregivers’ global attachment representations, as measured by the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), and relationship-specific attachment representations, as measured by the Working Model of the Child Interview (WMCI), were obtained in a sample of 196 mother-infant dyads. Infant-caregiver attachment status was assessed using the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) when infants were 12 months of age. Considerable correspondence was found between caregivers’ global and relationship-specific attachment representations; however, there was no evidence for the mediational hypothesis. The current study makes a significant contribution to the literature as it represents the first attempt to directly evaluate the links between caregivers’ global and relationship-specific attachment representations within the domain of caregiver-child relationships.
    01/2009;
  • Sheri Madigan, Diane Benoit, Greg Moran
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: To examine if a measure of disrupted caregiver behavior is equally effective in differentiating children with disorganized attachment from children with secure and insecure-organized attachment. Method: One hundred and eighty-four low-risk mother-infant dyads participated in this study. Mother-infant attachment relationships were assessed using the Strange Situation procedure and disrupted caregiver behavior was assessed at 12 and 18 months using the AMBIANCE measure. Results: Disrupted caregiver behavior distinguished children with disorganized attachment from children with secure attachment but not from children with resistant attachment.
    01/2007;
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    ABSTRACT: The present study is a reanalysis of a preexisting study examining the usefulness of the Atypical Maternal Behavior Instrument for Assessment and Classification (AMBIANCE; Bronfman, Parsons, & Lyons-Ruth, 1999) measure as an indicator of efficacy in reducing disrupted caregiver behavior in two brief interventions. The current study examines the rate of change in the display of disrupted caregiver behavior over the course of an attachment-based intervention (Modified Interaction Guidance) in a group of 11 caregiver-infant dyads referred to a tertiary care clinic for feeding problems. The AMBIANCE was utilized as an indicator of change in disrupted behavior following an assessment feedback session and three intervention sessions. Results showed a significant decrease in the total display of disrupted caregiver behaviors, as well as a change in classification from disrupted to not-disrupted, after receiving both feedback from the assessment and the first treatment session. A qualitative analysis of the data further revealed different patterns of change between caregivers. These findings provide preliminary empirical support suggesting that a reduction of disrupted caregiver behavior can be observed relatively quickly after the commencement of the Modified Interaction Guidance intervention.
    Infant Mental Health Journal 09/2006; 27(5):509 - 527. · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The current meta-analysis examines the links between unresolved representations of attachment, anomalous parental behavior, and disorganized attachment relationships in 12 studies including 851 families. We found moderate effect sizes for the associations between unresolved states of mind and anomalous behavior (r = .26), unresolved states of mind and infant disorganized attachment relationships (r = .21), and anomalous behavior and disorganized attachment relationships (r = .34). Sample characteristics, observational context, and observational measure were not associated with differences in effect sizes. Only a small part of the association between unresolved states of mind and disorganized attachment relationships was explained by the mediation of anomalous parental behavior (.26* .34 = .09). Other factors yet to be uncovered must mediate the influence of unresolved states of mind on infant disorganized attachment; thus, further exploration of infant, parental, ecological, and genetic factors are warranted.
    Attachment & Human Development 07/2006; 8(2):89-111. · 2.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Attachment theorists assume that maternal mental representations influence responsivity, which influences infant attachment security. However, primary studies do not support this mediation model. The authors tested mediation using 2 mother-infant samples and found no evidence of mediation. Therefore, the authors explored sensitivity as a moderator, studying the (a) interaction of mental representation and sensitivity as it predicts infant attachment security and (b) level of sensitivity in mothers whose infants' attachment security is either concordant or discordant with their own. The interactional analyses were not significant. But the match-mismatch data showed that when mother-infant attachment strategies were discordant, maternal sensitivity was more consistent with infant than maternal attachment strategy. These findings are congruent with an interpretation of sensitivity as a moderator that can block transmission of attachment strategy.
    Developmental Psychology 02/2005; 41(1):42-53. · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    DIANE BENOIT
    01/2005;
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    Diane Benoit
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    ABSTRACT: Attachment theory is one of the most popular and empirically grounded theories relating to parenting. The purpose of the present article is to review some pertinent aspects of attachment theory and findings from attachment research. Attachment is one specific aspect of the relationship between a child and a parent with its purpose being to make a child safe, secure and protected. Attachment is distinguished from other aspects of parenting, such as disciplining, entertaining and teaching. Common misconceptions about what attachment is and what it is not are discussed. The distinction between attachment and bonding is provided. The recognized method to assess infant-parent attachment, the Strange Situation procedure, is described. In addition, a description is provided for the four major types of infant-parent attachment, ie, secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-resistant and insecure-disorganized. The antecedents and consequences of each of the four types of infant-parent attachment are discussed. A special emphasis is placed on the description of disorganized attachment because of its association with significant emotional and behavioural problems, and poor social and emotional outcomes in high-risk groups and in the majority of children who have disorganized attachment with their primary caregiver. Practical applications of attachment theory and research are presented.
    Paediatrics & child health 11/2004; 9(8):541-545. · 1.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The data for 197 mother-infant pairs from two longitudinal studies were analyzed to assess relations between maternal attachment representations; atypical maternal behavior, coded with a new tool. Atypical Maternal Behavior Instrument for Assessment and Classification (AMBIANCE), and infant attachment. Both maternal and infant attachment were systematically related to atypical maternal behavior: mothers who were Unresolved on the Adult Attachment Interview and those whose infants were disorganized in the Strange Situation Procedure engaged in more atypical behaviors than those who were not Unresolved and whose infants showed organized patterns of attachment, respectively. Regression analyses indicated that when tested as a mediator, atypical maternal behavior as measured on the AMBIANCE did not reduce the association between maternal Unresolved status and infant disorganized attachment. This may, in part, reflect the fact that our low-risk sample did not include enough cases in the risk categories. These data provide preliminary empirical validation for the AMBIANCE and strengthen the evidence for links between atypical maternal behavior and disorganized attachment but indicate that in addition to maternal attachment representations, other factors must contribute to atypical maternal behavior.
    Development and Psychopathology 02/2003; 15(2):239-57. · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We explored the relationship between vocal expressiveness in song and maternal attachment representation. Mothers (N=36), classified as Autonomous, Dismissing, or Preoccupied, sang a play song of their choice in their 6-month-old infants’ presence and absence. Raters (N=50) who were naı̈ve to maternal attachment classifications listened to excerpts of each song rendition and rated mothers’ emotional involvement. Mothers, regardless of their attachment classification, sang more expressively in their infants’ presence than otherwise. Unique patterns of vocal expressiveness were associated with different maternal attachment classifications, but only under conditions of infant distress. Unlike Autonomous and Preoccupied mothers, who sang less playfully to distressed than to nondistressed infants, the playfulness of Dismissing mothers’ performances was unrelated to infant affect. These findings support the hypothesis that maternal attachment influences the nature of emotive vocal communication, but only under conditions of infant distress.
    Infant Behavior and Development. 01/2003;
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    ABSTRACT: The display of atypical behaviors and disrupted communication during parent–infant interactions, as assessed by the Atypical Maternal Behavior Instrument for Assessment and Classification (AMBIANCE), has been linked to disorganized infant attachment, which, in turn, has been linked to psychopathology. The present study examined the usefulness of the AMBIANCE as an indicator of the efficacy of two brief interventions in reducing atypical behaviors and disrupted communication during play interactions. Twenty-eight mother–infant dyads participated (14 per intervention). All infants had feeding problems. One intervention, Interaction Guidance, focused on training caregivers to respond sensitively to their infants (play-focused intervention). The other intervention focused on training mothers to use new feeding techniques (feeding-focused intervention). Results showed a significant decrease in AMBIANCE scores in the play-focused group from pre- to postintervention, but not in the feeding-focused group. There was a significant decrease in the level of disrupted communication from pre- to postintervention sessions in the play-focused group but not in the feeding-focused group. 73% of mothers from the play-focused group and 17% of mothers from the feeding-focused group initially classified as “disrupted” attained a classification of “nondisrupted” at the postintervention session. Some limitations of the study include small sample size, differences in timing of assessment for each intervention, and use of samples of convenience. Nonetheless, these findings provide preliminary evidence both of the usefulness of AMBIANCE as an instrument for assessing clinical efficacy and the efficacy of Interaction Guidance. ©2001 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health.
    Infant Mental Health Journal 10/2001; 22(6):611 - 626. · 0.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Van IJzendoorn’s (1995) model of the intergenerational transmission of attachment was tested with data from 96 mother-infant dyads assessed prenatally, and at 6 and 12 months. In spite of efforts to explain or reduce the transmission gap by measuring all three components in the same study, improving or altering definitions of sensitivity, and considering infant dyadic contributions, the results remain surprisingly consistent with the original meta-analysis: only a limited portion of the link between maternal and infant attachment is transmitted via maternal sensitivity/responsiveness. In support of the notion that the link between unresolved maternal attachment and infant disorganization is mediated by processes other than maternal responsiveness, omission of unresolved and disorganized cases enhanced links between responsiveness and infant attachment and slightly reduced the transmission gap. Accumulating data indicate that 1) maternal attachment contributes to infant attachment through routes other than maternal responsiveness and 2) maternal sensitivity/responsiveness contributes to infant attachment independent of maternal attachment. New models of the transmission process that take account of this information are needed.
    Infant Behavior and Development 03/2001; 24(3):281-304. · 1.67 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

904 Citations
73.17 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1997–2014
    • University of Toronto
      • Hospital for Sick Children
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 1994–2014
    • SickKids
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2006
    • The University of Western Ontario
      London, Ontario, Canada
  • 1992
    • Queen's University
      Kingston, Ontario, Canada