The Significance of Insecure Attachment and Disorganization in the Development of Children’s Externalizing Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Study

Authors


  • Support from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research to Marinus van IJzendoorn (NWO SPINOZA award) and to Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg (NWO VIDI grant) is gratefully acknowledged. The study was also supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation to Glenn I. Roisman (BCS-0720538).

concerning this article should be addressed to R. Pasco Fearon, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, 3 Earley Gate, Whiteknights, Reading RD6 6AL, United Kingdom. Electronic mail may be sent to p.fearon@reading.ac.uk.

Abstract

This study addresses the extent to which insecure and disorganized attachments increase risk for externalizing problems using meta-analysis. From 69 samples (= 5,947), the association between insecurity and externalizing problems was significant, = 0.31 (95% CI: 0.23, 0.40). Larger effects were found for boys (= 0.35), clinical samples (= 0.49), and from observation-based outcome assessments (= 0.58). Larger effects were found for attachment assessments other than the Strange Situation. Overall, disorganized children appeared at elevated risk (= 0.34, 95% CI: 0.18, 0.50), with weaker effects for avoidance (= 0.12, 95% CI: 0.03, 0.21) and resistance (= 0.11, 95% CI: −0.04, 0.26). The results are discussed in terms of the potential significance of attachment for mental health.

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