Unresolved states of mind, anomalous parental behavior, and disorganized attachment: A review and meta-analysis of a transmission gap

Sheri Madigan*, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. Van Ijzendoorn, Greg Moran, David R. Pederson, Diane Benoit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview article


The current meta-analysis examines the links between unresolved representations of attachment, anomalous parental behavior, and disorganized attachment relationships in 12 studies including 851 families. We found moderate effect sizes for the associations between unresolved states of mind and anomalous behavior (r = .26), unresolved states of mind and infant disorganized attachment relationships (r = .21), and anomalous behavior and disorganized attachment relationships (r = .34). Sample characteristics, observational context, and observational measure were not associated with differences in effect sizes. Only a small part of the association between unresolved states of mind and disorganized attachment relationships was explained by the mediation of anomalous parental behavior (.26* .34 = .09). Other factors yet to be uncovered must mediate the influence of unresolved states of mind on infant disorganized attachment; thus, further exploration of infant, parental, ecological, and genetic factors are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-111
Number of pages23
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • Attachment
  • Meta-analysis
  • Parental behavior

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