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Title:The influence of child attachment security, dietary consumption, and household chaos on executive function
Author(s):Iwinski, Samantha Jean
Advisor(s):Bost, Kelly
Contributor(s):Ebata, Aaron
Department / Program:Human Dvlpmt & Family Studies
Discipline:Human Dvlpmt & Family Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:M.S.
Genre:Thesis
Subject(s):child attachment
executive function
diet
household chaos
Abstract:Executive function (EF) encompasses an array of higher-order cognitive skills that have been associated with optimal functioning (Garon et al., 2008). Children’s EF unfolds over time and may be influenced by multiple factors, including caregiver-child relationships, household environments, and dietary consumption. Children with more secure attachment representations (Menon et al., 2020) and who eat more healthy foods instead of snack foods or processed meats have been found to have more optimal EF abilities (Cohen et al., 2016; Isaacs & Oates, 2008). Literature has also shown that higher household chaos is associated with lower EF skills (Dumas et al., 2005; Pike et al., 2006) and may indirectly predict behavioral regulation for children and impact parenting behaviors (Vernon-Feagans et al., 2016). In this study, we tested two models examining influences on children’s EF: one that examined the relationship between observed child attachment security and child EF, and the other that examined parent-reported dietary consumption and child EF. A third aim was to determine if household chaos moderated these relationships. The sample consisted of 275 families participating in a more extensive birth cohort study of nutrition and child health. Home observations were conducted when children were 18-24 months (52% females) to assess child attachment security (van IJzendoorn et al., 2004). Caregivers completed the Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ; Nutrition Quest, 2014) to evaluate children’s dietary consumption. PCA analyses were used to determine child dietary consumption through food groupings. The Confusion, Hubbub, and Order Scale (CHAOS; Matheny et al., 1995) assessed household chaos, and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function®-Preschool Version (BRIEF-P; Gioia et al., 1996) was used to measure children’s EF. The following subscales of the BRIEF-P were used in all analyses: Inhibitory Self-Control (ISCI), Flexibility (FI), and Emergent Metacognition (EM). Multiple regressions were used to test study hypotheses. Child attachment security (β = -0.24, p = 0.03), and household chaos (β = 0.41, p ≤ 0.001) were both independent and significant predictors of ISCI scores (see Table 5). For the EMI subscale, only household chaos (β = 0.40, p = 0.002) was a significant predictor (see Table 6). Additionally, child attachment security (β = -0.23, p = 0.03) and household chaos (β = 0.31, p = 0.003) were found to be significant predictors of EF FI scores (see Table 7). For the second model, all analyses examining associations between dietary consumption, household chaos, and child EF subscales revealed significant effects for household chaos only with betas ranging from -0.02-0.38 (see Tables 8-12). These findings suggest that child attachment security, child dietary consumption, and household chaos may independently and uniquely impact children’s EF during early childhood. Future longitudinal studies that include multi-method approaches are needed to shed light on these associations over time.
Issue Date:2021-04-26
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/110544
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Samantha Iwinski
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05


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