Do Adolescents and Parents Reconstruct Memories About Their Conflict as a Function of Adolescent Attachment?


  • This research was supported by Grant HD36635 from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development to Jude Cassidy, and by an NRSA Predoctoral Award to Katherine Ehrlich (F31 DA027365-01). Portions of this research were presented at the International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference, July 2006, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We thank the families who participated in this research and Mindy Rodenberg Cabrera for supervising data collection. We are grateful to Kristen Intlekofer, Daniel Isenberg, Melissa Klein, Laura Long, Fatima Ramos Marcuse, Amber Wong, and Yair Ziv for coding the interactions; and to Inbal Kivenson Bar-On, Mindy Rodenberg Cabrera, June Sroufe, Sue Watson, and Marina Zelenko for coding the interviews used in this study. We are also grateful to Kevin O’Grady and Tracy Tomlinson of the University of Maryland Design and Statistical Analysis Laboratory, and Jacqueline Reihman for their statistical consultation, and to Phillip Shaver and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this report.

concerning this article should be addressed to Matthew J. Dykas, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined whether 17-year-old adolescents (= 189) and their parents reconstructed their memory for an adolescent–parent laboratory conflict over a 6-week period as a function of adolescent attachment organization. It also compared participants’ perceptions of conflict over time to observational ratings of the conflict to further characterize the nature of the attachment-related memory biases that emerged. Secure adolescents reconstructed interactions with each parent more favorably over time, whereas insecure adolescents showed less favorable reconstructive memory. Likewise, mothers of secure girls reconstructed conflicts more favorably over time, whereas mothers of insecure boys showed less favorable reconstructive memory. Participant ratings were associated with observational ratings in theoretically consistent ways. Contrary to expectations, fathers showed no attachment-related memory biases.