From maternal sensitivity in infancy to adult attachment representations: a longitudinal adoption study with secure base scripts

Christie Schoenmaker, Femmie Juffer*, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Mariëlle Linting, Anja van der Voort, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

We examined whether differences in adult attachment representations could be predicted from early and later maternal sensitivity, controlling for early and later assessments of attachment. In this longitudinal study on 190 adoptees, attachment at 23 years was measured with the Attachment Script Assessment. Maternal sensitivity was observed in infancy and at seven and 14 years. Attachment was also measured in infancy and at 14 years. Higher maternal sensitivity in infancy predicted more secure attachment in infancy and more secure attachment representations in young adulthood. Higher maternal sensitivity in middle childhood also predicted more secure attachment representations in young adulthood. There was no continuity of attachment from infancy to young adulthood, but attachment in adolescence and young adulthood were significantly related. Even in genetically unrelated families, maternal sensitivity in early and middle childhood predicts attachment representations in young adults, confirming the importance of sensitive parenting for human development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-256
Number of pages16
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • adoption
  • adult attachment
  • attachment
  • Attachment Script Assessment
  • secure base scripts
  • sensitivity

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