Stability and transmission of attachment across three generations

Child Dev. 1994 Oct;65(5):1444-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1994.tb00828.x.


Stability of adult attachment and transmission of attachment across 3 generations were examined in a longitudinal study of 96 infants, mothers, and maternal grandmothers. The Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) was used to assess attachment in mothers (during pregnancy and when infants were 11 months old) and grandmothers (any time during the study). The Strange Situation (SS) was used to assess attachment in infants at 12 months. Both the 3- and 4-category classification systems of the AAI and SS were used. Mothers' AAI classifications were stable over 12 months in 90% (3-category) and 77% (4-category) of mothers. Mothers' AAI classifications during pregnancy predicted infants' SS classifications in 81% (3-category) and 68% (4-category) of cases, and grandmothers' AAI classifications in 75% (3-category) and 49% (4-category) of cases. Using log-linear analysis, we show that a simple parent-to-child model accounts for transmission of attachment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Behavior
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Middle Aged
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers
  • Object Attachment*
  • Pregnancy