Young Children’s Trust in Their Mother’s Claims: Longitudinal Links With Attachment Security in Infancy


  • Kathleen Corriveau and Paul L. Harris were supported by a grant from the Spencer Foundation (Grant 2007001310. Elizabeth Meins was supported by grants from the ESRC (Grant R000239456 and RES-000-23-1073). We are grateful to the mothers and children who participated and to Vikram Jaswal for permission to use the hybrid stimuli.

concerning this article should be addressed to Kathleen H. Corriveau, Harvard University, 512 Larsen Hall, HGSE, Appian Way, Cambridge, MA 02138. Electronic mail may be sent to


In a longitudinal study of attachment, children (N = 147) aged 50 and 61 months heard their mother and a stranger make conflicting claims. In 2 tasks, the available perceptual cues were equally consistent with either person’s claim but children generally accepted the mother’s claims over those of the stranger. In a 3rd task, the perceptual cues favored the stranger’s claims, and children generally accepted her claims over those of the mother. However, children’s pattern of responding varied by attachment status. The strategy of relying on the mother or the stranger, depending on the available perceptual cues, was especially evident among secure children. Insecure-avoidant children displayed less reliance on their mother’s claims, irrespective of the available cues, whereas insecure-resistant children displayed more.