Unresolved maternal attachment representations, disrupted maternal behavior and disorganized attachment in infancy: links to toddler behavior problems

S. Madigan, G. Moran, C. Schuengel, R. Otten, D.R. Pederson

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Attachment theory's original formulation was substantially driven by Bowlby's (1969/1982) quest for a meaningful model of the development of psychopathology. Bowlby posited that aberrant experiences of parenting increase the child's risk of psychopathological outcomes, and that these risks are mediated by the quality of the attachment relationship. To empirically examine this hypothesis, the current study explores the associations between the development of toddler behavior problems and a) maternal unresolved attachment representations, b) maternal interactive behavior, and c) infant attachment relationships. Second, we test the mediating role of disorganized attachment in the association between disruptive behavior and toddler behavior problems, as well as unresolved attachment and behavior problems. Method: Sixty-four adolescent mother-infant dyads participated in this longitudinal study. The Adult Attachment Interview was administered at 6 months, the Strange Situation procedure was conducted at 12 months, disrupted behavior was assessed during play interactions at 12 months using the AMBIANCE measure, and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was used to assess behavior problems at 24 months of age. Results: Maternal reports of externalizing problems were significantly associated with unresolved representations of attachment, disrupted maternal behavior, and disorganized attachment. Inclusion of these variables in a path analytic model suggested that disorganized attachment mediated the associations between disrupted maternal behavior and externalizing problems. Although the association between unresolved attachment representations and externalizing problems was no longer significant when mediation by disrupted behavior and disorganized attachment was taken into account, this indirect pathway was not significant. Conclusions: The results are consistent with Bowlby's (1969/1982) original conceptualization of the explanatory role of the attachment relationship in the development and manifestation of behavioral maladaptation. Effects of unresolved attachment on externalizing problems await further explanation. © 2007 The Authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1042-1050
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume48
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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Maternal Behavior
Mothers
Parenting
Child Behavior
Checklist
Psychopathology
Longitudinal Studies
Problem Behavior
Interviews

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@article{ad312d0eacee441fb11d2ceda738a931,
title = "Unresolved maternal attachment representations, disrupted maternal behavior and disorganized attachment in infancy: links to toddler behavior problems",
abstract = "Background: Attachment theory's original formulation was substantially driven by Bowlby's (1969/1982) quest for a meaningful model of the development of psychopathology. Bowlby posited that aberrant experiences of parenting increase the child's risk of psychopathological outcomes, and that these risks are mediated by the quality of the attachment relationship. To empirically examine this hypothesis, the current study explores the associations between the development of toddler behavior problems and a) maternal unresolved attachment representations, b) maternal interactive behavior, and c) infant attachment relationships. Second, we test the mediating role of disorganized attachment in the association between disruptive behavior and toddler behavior problems, as well as unresolved attachment and behavior problems. Method: Sixty-four adolescent mother-infant dyads participated in this longitudinal study. The Adult Attachment Interview was administered at 6 months, the Strange Situation procedure was conducted at 12 months, disrupted behavior was assessed during play interactions at 12 months using the AMBIANCE measure, and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was used to assess behavior problems at 24 months of age. Results: Maternal reports of externalizing problems were significantly associated with unresolved representations of attachment, disrupted maternal behavior, and disorganized attachment. Inclusion of these variables in a path analytic model suggested that disorganized attachment mediated the associations between disrupted maternal behavior and externalizing problems. Although the association between unresolved attachment representations and externalizing problems was no longer significant when mediation by disrupted behavior and disorganized attachment was taken into account, this indirect pathway was not significant. Conclusions: The results are consistent with Bowlby's (1969/1982) original conceptualization of the explanatory role of the attachment relationship in the development and manifestation of behavioral maladaptation. Effects of unresolved attachment on externalizing problems await further explanation. {\circledC} 2007 The Authors.",
author = "S. Madigan and G. Moran and C. Schuengel and R. Otten and D.R. Pederson",
year = "2007",
doi = "10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01805.x",
language = "English",
volume = "48",
pages = "1042--1050",
journal = "Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry",
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}

Unresolved maternal attachment representations, disrupted maternal behavior and disorganized attachment in infancy: links to toddler behavior problems. / Madigan, S.; Moran, G.; Schuengel, C.; Otten, R.; Pederson, D.R.

In: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 48, 2007, p. 1042-1050.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Unresolved maternal attachment representations, disrupted maternal behavior and disorganized attachment in infancy: links to toddler behavior problems

AU - Madigan, S.

AU - Moran, G.

AU - Schuengel, C.

AU - Otten, R.

AU - Pederson, D.R.

PY - 2007

Y1 - 2007

N2 - Background: Attachment theory's original formulation was substantially driven by Bowlby's (1969/1982) quest for a meaningful model of the development of psychopathology. Bowlby posited that aberrant experiences of parenting increase the child's risk of psychopathological outcomes, and that these risks are mediated by the quality of the attachment relationship. To empirically examine this hypothesis, the current study explores the associations between the development of toddler behavior problems and a) maternal unresolved attachment representations, b) maternal interactive behavior, and c) infant attachment relationships. Second, we test the mediating role of disorganized attachment in the association between disruptive behavior and toddler behavior problems, as well as unresolved attachment and behavior problems. Method: Sixty-four adolescent mother-infant dyads participated in this longitudinal study. The Adult Attachment Interview was administered at 6 months, the Strange Situation procedure was conducted at 12 months, disrupted behavior was assessed during play interactions at 12 months using the AMBIANCE measure, and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was used to assess behavior problems at 24 months of age. Results: Maternal reports of externalizing problems were significantly associated with unresolved representations of attachment, disrupted maternal behavior, and disorganized attachment. Inclusion of these variables in a path analytic model suggested that disorganized attachment mediated the associations between disrupted maternal behavior and externalizing problems. Although the association between unresolved attachment representations and externalizing problems was no longer significant when mediation by disrupted behavior and disorganized attachment was taken into account, this indirect pathway was not significant. Conclusions: The results are consistent with Bowlby's (1969/1982) original conceptualization of the explanatory role of the attachment relationship in the development and manifestation of behavioral maladaptation. Effects of unresolved attachment on externalizing problems await further explanation. © 2007 The Authors.

AB - Background: Attachment theory's original formulation was substantially driven by Bowlby's (1969/1982) quest for a meaningful model of the development of psychopathology. Bowlby posited that aberrant experiences of parenting increase the child's risk of psychopathological outcomes, and that these risks are mediated by the quality of the attachment relationship. To empirically examine this hypothesis, the current study explores the associations between the development of toddler behavior problems and a) maternal unresolved attachment representations, b) maternal interactive behavior, and c) infant attachment relationships. Second, we test the mediating role of disorganized attachment in the association between disruptive behavior and toddler behavior problems, as well as unresolved attachment and behavior problems. Method: Sixty-four adolescent mother-infant dyads participated in this longitudinal study. The Adult Attachment Interview was administered at 6 months, the Strange Situation procedure was conducted at 12 months, disrupted behavior was assessed during play interactions at 12 months using the AMBIANCE measure, and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was used to assess behavior problems at 24 months of age. Results: Maternal reports of externalizing problems were significantly associated with unresolved representations of attachment, disrupted maternal behavior, and disorganized attachment. Inclusion of these variables in a path analytic model suggested that disorganized attachment mediated the associations between disrupted maternal behavior and externalizing problems. Although the association between unresolved attachment representations and externalizing problems was no longer significant when mediation by disrupted behavior and disorganized attachment was taken into account, this indirect pathway was not significant. Conclusions: The results are consistent with Bowlby's (1969/1982) original conceptualization of the explanatory role of the attachment relationship in the development and manifestation of behavioral maladaptation. Effects of unresolved attachment on externalizing problems await further explanation. © 2007 The Authors.

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M3 - Article

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SP - 1042

EP - 1050

JO - Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

JF - Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

SN - 0021-9630

ER -