This chapter addresses the question of to what extent a secure attachment relationship during infancy is related to mastery motivation in toddlerhood. Mastery motivation is conceived here in a rather broad sense, as the motivation to know, act upon and master the environment. What we mean by mastery motivation is closely related to White’s (1959) conception of effectance or competence motivation, which was elaborated further by Harter (1978). White emphasized that the motivation to interact competently with the environment must be seen as a universal and innate drive. Although White mentioned the role of life experiences upon the development of effectance motivation, he did not explicitly pay attention to the existence and development of inter-individual differences in the strength of the motive. In recent years, however, much effort has been invested in the assessment of mastery motivation and in the development and stability of inter-individual differences in this area (Morgan et al. 1990). In addition, a considerable number of studies have focused upon the effects of children’s experiences on the development of their motivation to explore and master the environment. With regard to the effects of experience within infancy, research has been conducted from two different theoretical perspectives, suggesting different mechanisms to explain and specify the effects of experience upon the development of mastery motivation.
Within the first theoretical viewpoint, personal agency beliefs, such as perceptions of control, perceptions of competence, and self-efficacy expectations, are proposed to mediate the effects of experience upon the child’s motivational development (Bandura 1977; Ford and Thompson 1985; Lewis and Goldberg 1969; Riksen-Walraven 1978; Skinner 1986;