Predicting psychopathology in six-year-olds from early social relations

Child Dev. 1984 Feb;55(1):123-36.


113 children were seen at 1 and 6 years of age in order to examine the relationship between the quality of the early attachment relationship and later psychopathology. On the basis of scores from the Achenbach and Edelbrock Child Behavior Profile, an outcome measure of psychopathology at 6 years, the results indicated different outcomes for male and female children. For males, attachment classification at 1 year was significantly related to later psychopathology; insecurely attached males showed more psychopathology than securely attached males. No relationship between attachment and later psychopathology was observed for females. Even for males, the attachment classification only partly predicted later behavioral problems. Several other factors, including life-stress events and family demographic variables, appeared to influence the development of psychopathology. The findings suggest that although the child's attachment relationship plays an important role in the development of psychopathology, the child is neither made invulnerable by an early secure attachment nor doomed to psychopathology by an insecure attachment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Personality Development
  • Social Environment