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Attach Hum Dev. 2004 Mar;6(1):73-97.

Continuity, discontinuity, and coherence in attachment from infancy to late adolescence: sequelae of organization and disorganization.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22904, USA.


This longitudinal study examines continuity and discontinuity of attachment quality from infancy to late adolescence in a sample of 125 participants considered at birth to be at high-risk due to poverty. Strange Situations were conducted at 12 and 18 months; Adult Attachment Interviews were administered at age 19. Child and maternal characteristics and experiences and observational assessments of the families were explored as correlates of continuity and discontinuity in attachment. Contrary to findings of continuity from low-risk samples, analyses demonstrated no significant overall continuity in attachment security. Disorganized infants were significantly more likely than organized infants to be insecure or unresolved in late adolescence. Additionally, infant disorganization predicted unresolved abuse scores on the AAI for those participants who experienced childhood abuse. Significant correlates of continuity and change spanned a variety of age periods and included infant temperament, maternal life stress, family functioning at pre-adolescence, child maltreatment and features of the home environment. Findings are discussed as supporting the coherence of attachment over time.

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