Remaining or becoming secure: Parental sensitive support predicts attachment continuity from infancy to adolescence in a longitudinal adoption study

Mariëlle D. Beijersbergen, Femmie Juffer*, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. van Ijzendoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In a longitudinal study with 125 early adopted adolescents, we examined continuity of attachment from infancy to adolescence and the role of parental sensitive support in explaining continuity or discontinuity of attachment. Assessments of maternal sensitive support and infant attachment (Strange Situation Procedure) were completed when infants were 12 months old. When the children were 14 years old, we observed mothers' sensitive support during a conflict discussion. The adolescents' attachment representations were assessed with the Adult Attachment Interview. Mothers of secure adolescents showed significantly more sensitive support during conflicts than did mothers of insecure adolescents. Overall, no continuity of attachment from infancy to adolescence was found. However, maternal sensitive support in early childhood and adolescence predicted continuity of secure attachment from 1 to 14 years, whereas less maternal sensitive support in early childhood but more maternal sensitive support in adolescence predicted children's change from insecurity in infancy to security in adolescence. We conclude that both early and later parental sensitive support are important for continuity of attachment across the first 14 years of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1277-1282
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Volume48
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • AAI
  • Adoption
  • Attachment
  • Continuity
  • Sensitivity

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