Attachment and Temperament in the Early Life Course: A Meta-Analytic Review

Child Dev. 2017 May;88(3):770-795. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12677. Epub 2016 Nov 21.


This meta-analytic review examines the association between early attachment (assessed at 1-5 years) and child temperament (assessed at birth-12 years), and compares the strength of this association with recently documented meta-analytic associations between early attachment and social competence, externalizing behavior, and internalizing symptoms. Based on 109 independent samples (N = 11,440) of diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, temperament was weakly associated with attachment (in)security (d = .14, CI [0.08, 0.19]) but modestly associated with resistant attachment (d = .30, CI [0.21, 0.40]). Temperament was not significantly associated with avoidant (d = .10, CI [-0.02, 0.19]) or disorganized (d = .11, CI [-0.03, 0.25]) attachment. Across developmental domains, early attachment security was more strongly associated with social competence and externalizing behaviors than internalizing symptoms and temperament.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior / physiology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Object Attachment*
  • Social Skills*
  • Temperament / physiology*