The Significance of Insecure and Disorganized Attachment for Children's Internalizing Symptoms: A Meta-Analytic Study

Department, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 603 E. Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820, USA.
Child Development (Impact Factor: 4.92). 01/2012; 83(2):591-610. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01711.x
Source: PubMed


This meta-analytic review examines the association between attachment and internalizing symptomatology during childhood, and compares the strength of this association with that for externalizing symptomatology. Based on 42 independent samples (N = 4,614), the association between insecurity and internalizing symptoms was small, yet significant (d = 0.15, CI 0.06~0.25) and not moderated by assessment age of internalizing problems. Avoidance, but not resistance (d = 0.03, CI -0.11~0.17) or disorganization (d = 0.08, CI -0.06~0.22), was significantly associated with internalizing symptoms (d = 0.17, CI 0.03~0.31). Insecurity and disorganization were more strongly associated with externalizing than internalizing symptoms. Discussion focuses on the significance of attachment for the development of internalizing versus externalizing symptomatology.

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    • "Bates and Dozier (2002) found proportions of attachment states of mind comparable to that in the general population, although there was a trend showing fewer secure-autonomous and preoccupied foster mothers, and more dismissing and unresolved foster mothers. When children are placed with insecure foster mothers, they are more likely to show disorganized attachment behaviors (Dozier, Stoval, Albus, & Bates, 2001) – a form of attachment that is a significant risk factor for child maladjustment in the short-and long-term (Fearon et al., 2010; Groh et al., 2012). In line with these results, a recent study showed that foster caregivers' insecure states of mind were associated with increased atypical parenting while interacting with the foster child (Ballen et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated different environmental and contextual factors associated with maltreated children's adjustment in foster care. Participants included 83 children (52 boys), ages 1-7 years, and their foster caregivers. Quality of interaction with the foster caregiver was assessed from direct observation of a free-play situation; foster caregiver attachment state of mind and commitment toward the child were assessed using two interviews; disruptive behavior symptoms were reported by foster caregivers. Results showed that quality of interaction between foster caregivers and children were associated with behavior problems, such that higher-quality interactions were related to fewer externalizing and internalizing problems. Foster caregivers' state of mind and commitment were interrelated but not directly associated with behavior problems of foster children. Type of placement moderated the association between foster caregiver commitment and foster child behavior problems. Whereas greater foster caregiver commitment was associated with higher levels of adjustment for children in foster families (kin and non-kin), this was not the case in foster-to-adopt families. Finally, the associations between foster child behavior problems and history of maltreatment and placement related-risk conditions fell below significance after considering child age and quality of interaction with the foster caregiver. Findings underscore the crucial contribution of the foster caregiver-child relationship to fostering child adjustment and, thereby, have important implications for clinical services offered to this population. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Child abuse & neglect 07/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.06.009 · 2.34 Impact Factor
    • "Further, the effects of avoidant and anxious-ambivalent insecure attachment also lacked significance, and appeared to have similar associations with internalizing behaviors. In a comparison of internalizing and externalizing behaviors, Groh et al. (2012) note that disorganized attachment appears to be significantly more strongly related to externalizing than internalizing behaviors. A second meta-analysis examined anxiety and depression among infants and children who were classified as organized and/or disorganized and who exhibited internalizing behavior at any point in childhood (Madigan, Atkinson, Laurin, & Benoit, 2013). "
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    Review of General Psychology 06/2015; 19(2). DOI:10.1037/gpr0000042 · 1.78 Impact Factor
    • "Disorganized and cannot/classify attachments may be the result of an abusive or emotionally unresolved parent, or, as recently observed, they can originate from life in residential care contexts (Vorria et al., 2003; Zeanah, Smyke, Koga, & Carlson, 2005). Both patterns, the D and CC, are considered the most risky for the child's emotional and social development, with negative outcomes in terms of emotion regulation and behavioral problems in kindergarten and preschool years (Barone & Lionetti, 2012; Groh et al., 2012). Disorganized caregiving relationships in childhood are also related to an increased risk for dissociation, stresful fellings (Lionetti, Pastore, & Barone, 2015) and disruptive caregiving behavior in adulthood (Barone, Bramante, Lionetti, & Pastore, 2014; Carlson, 1998; Liotti, 2011). "
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