The significance of insecure attachment and disorganization in the development of children's externalizing behavior: a meta-analytic study

Child Dev. Mar-Apr 2010;81(2):435-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01405.x.

Abstract

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

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Anxiety, Separation / diagnosis
  • Anxiety, Separation / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Object Attachment*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors