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The Significance of Insecure and Disorganized Attachment for Children’s Internalizing Symptoms: A Meta-Analytic Study


  • The study was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation to Glenn I. Roisman (BCS-0720538). Support from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research to Marinus van IJzendoorn (NWO SPINOZA award) and to Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg (NWO VIDI and VICI grants) is also gratefully acknowledged. We offer special thanks to David, Eve, and Ruth Goldberg, the children of Susan Goldberg, who granted permission to use requested data from Goldberg, Gotowiec, and Simmons (1995) article in this meta-analysis, as well as to all of the other investigators who were responsive to our requests for clarifications about their studies.

concerning this article should be addressed to Ashley M. Groh, Psychology Department, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 603 E. Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Electronic mail may be sent to


This meta-analytic review examines the association between attachment and internalizing symptomatology during childhood, and compares the strength of this association with that for externalizing symptomatology. Based on 42 independent samples (= 4,614), the association between insecurity and internalizing symptoms was small, yet significant (= 0.15, CI 0.06∼0.25) and not moderated by assessment age of internalizing problems. Avoidance, but not resistance (= 0.03, CI −0.11∼0.17) or disorganization (= 0.08, CI 0.06∼0.22), was significantly associated with internalizing symptoms (= 0.17, CI 0.03∼0.31). Insecurity and disorganization were more strongly associated with externalizing than internalizing symptoms. Discussion focuses on the significance of attachment for the development of internalizing versus externalizing symptomatology.