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

ABSTRACT 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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    • "Together, these studies provide evidence for a specific link from insecure-resistant attachment to adolescent anxiety. Although results of recent meta-analyses suggest that infant insecure attachment is a nonspecific risk factor for both internalizing and externalizing problems (Fearon et al., 2010; Groh et al., 2012; Madigan et al., 2013), Colonnesi et al. (2011) previously reported a slightly larger effect size for the association between insecure-resistant attachment and anxiety , r = .37, relative to the association between insecure attachment (overall) and anxiety, r = .30. "
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    ABSTRACT: Insecure attachment and behavioral inhibition (BI) increase risk for internalizing problems, but few longitudinal studies have examined their interaction in predicting adolescent anxiety. This study included 165 adolescents (ages 14-17 years) selected based on their reactivity to novelty at 4 months. Infant attachment was assessed with the Strange Situation. Multimethod BI assessments were conducted across childhood. Adolescents and their parents independently reported on anxiety. The interaction of attachment and BI significantly predicted adolescent anxiety symptoms, such that BI and anxiety were only associated among adolescents with histories of insecure attachment. Exploratory analyses revealed that this effect was driven by insecure-resistant attachment and that the association between BI and social anxiety was significant only for insecure males. Clinical implications are discussed. © 2014 The Authors. Child Development © 2014 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
    Child Development 12/2014; 86(2). DOI:10.1111/cdev.12336 · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    • "In summary, although some studies have found that insecure attachment, especially disorganized attachment, is a risk factor for externalizing problems (Fearon et al., 2010; Groh et al., 2012; van IJzendoorn et al., 1999), we know little about differences between the disorganized– controlling subgroups. Few studies have examined differential developmental correlates of disorganized subtypes . "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to investigate longitudinal associations between attachment at early school age and the development of externalizing symptoms in adolescence. The mediating roles of maternal helplessness and role reversal were also examined. Attachment classifications of 136 children (63 boys and 73 girls) and quality of mother-child interactions (role reversal) were observed at ages 5-6 using the separation-reunion procedure (Main & Cassidy, 1988). At age 13, externalizing problems reported by both the adolescent and the mother (Youth Self-Report; Achenbach, 1991), and caregiving helplessness reported by the mother (Caregiving Helplessness Questionnaire; George, Coulson, & Magana, 1997) were evaluated. Results indicated that children with disorganized attachment to their caregivers evidenced the most maladaptive patterns compared with children with secure attachment, displaying high externalizing symptoms and having mothers reporting more helplessness. Significant differences found among the disorganization subtypes indicated that the controlling-punitive subgroup had more maladaptive patterns across variables than did the behaviorally disorganized and controlling-caregiving subgroups. These findings support the idea that early attachment, mother-child interaction quality, and caregiving helplessness should be central themes in prevention and intervention programs with mother-child dyads. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
    American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 09/2014; 84(5):581-589. DOI:10.1037/ort0000017 · 1.50 Impact Factor
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    • "Avoidant attachment was the only category correlated with higher scores of depressive symptoms. The relation between avoidance and depression is consistent with some previous research (e.g., Groh et al., 2012) but it is in contrast with the above-mentioned studies by Brumariu and Kerns (2010) and Graham and Easterbrooks (2000). In addition, in our sample, avoidant children were more likely to report a level of depressive symptomatology above the pathological threshold of 19 at the Children's Depression Inventory. "
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    ABSTRACT: The main purpose of the present study was to explore the relationship between internal working models of attachment and depressive symptoms during childhood. The Children’s Depression Inventory (Kovacs, 1992) and the Separation Anxiety Test (Klagsbrun & Bowlby, 1976) were individually administered to 130 Italian children (49.2% females; mean age = 9.98 years; s.d. = .60) attending Primary School. Most children reported secure attachment representations. 14.62% of the sample exhibited a level of depressive symptomatology above the risk threshold. Avoidant attachment, but not secure or resistant, was associated with a higher level of depressive symptoms. Results highlighted the importance to further explore the links between attachment and depression, in order to early detect risk factors for the onset of childhood depression.
    6th International Attachment Conference, IAC 2013, August 30 – September 1, 2013, Pavia, Italy; 08/2013