Using photo elicitation to introduce a network perspective on attachment during middle childhood

  • In this article, we develop a child-centered network approach to attachment during middle childhood. Following monotropic ideas, current attachment research focuses on parental attachment figures despite the expansion of the children’s social environment during middle childhood, failing to generate a comprehensive and structured overview of all individuals who ensure the children’s feeling of safety. Relying on quantitative methods, these studies are also dominated by an adult perspective, limiting the children’s contributions. While there have been theoretical drafts of attachment networks during childhood, this article constitutes the first practical implementation. Using photo elicitation interviews and participant observations, we developed an innovative assessment strategy that allows children to exhaustively identify and characterize all their attachment figures on sociostructural and functional dimensions, thus positioning the children at the center of their comprehensive attachment networks that collectively contribute to their feeling of security. We combine qualitative and quantitative data to assess the children’s own understanding of their feeling of security and to locate the individual attachment figure on context-specific social dimensions, thus making the research setting, a clan in Cameroon, an inherent part of the methodological development. The data are translated into multidimensional network diagrams to visualize the children’s perception of their attachment environment and the emerging patterns of their selection. We present an exemplary network, supplementing it with observational data to discuss the ecological validity of our approach.

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Author:Sophia Daphne Becke, Stephan Bongard
Parent Title (English):International journal of qualitative methods
Publisher:Sage Publishing
Place of publication:London
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/08/30
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/11/01
Tag:case study; ethnography; ethnomethodology; grounded theory; photo elicitation
Page Number:12
First Page:1
Last Page:12
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften / Psychologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell 4.0