Parents' self-reported attachment styles: a review of links with parenting behaviors, emotions, and cognitions

Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2015 Feb;19(1):44-76. doi: 10.1177/1088868314541858. Epub 2014 Jul 14.


For decades, attachment scholars have been investigating how parents' adult attachment orientations relate to the ways in which they parent. Traditionally, this research has been conducted by developmental and clinical psychologists who typically employ the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) to measure adult attachment. However, dating back to the mid-1990s, social and personality psychologists have been investigating how self-reported adult attachment styles relate to various facets of parenting. The literature on self-reported attachment and parenting has received less attention than AAI research on the same topic and, to date, there is no comprehensive review of this literature. In this article, we review more than 60 studies of the links between self-reported attachment styles and parenting, integrate the findings to reach general conclusions, discuss unresolved questions, and suggest future directions. Finally, we discuss the potential benefits to the study of parenting of collaborations among researchers from the developmental and social attachment research traditions.

Keywords: attachment style; close relationships; individual differences; interpersonal processes; parenting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Models, Psychological
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Self Report