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Child Dev. 1993 Feb;64(1):231-45.

Attachment and emotion regulation during mother-teen problem solving: a control theory analysis.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark 19716.


We present a control theory analysis of adolescents' attachment strategies in the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). In Study 1, Q-sort prototypes for secure/anxious and deactivating/hyperactivating strategies were used to differentiate between Main and Goldwyn's AAI classifications. In Study 2, we examined how AAI strategies were associated with emotion regulation during mother-teen problem solving. 4 aspects of mother-teen problem solving (dysfunctional anger, support/validation, avoidance of problem solving, and maternal dominance) were used to predict teens' AAI strategies. Teens with secure strategies engaged in problem-solving discussions characterized by less dysfunctional anger and less avoidance of problem solving. In addition, attachment security showed a curvilinear relation with maternal dominance, indicating that secure teens maintained balanced assertiveness with their mothers. Teens with deactivating strategies engaged in problem-solving interactions characterized by higher levels of maternal dominance and dysfunctional anger. The contribution of attachment strategies to teens' autonomy and to transformations in mother-teen relationships is discussed.

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