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Child Dev. 1991 Dec;62(6):1475-88.

Relations between attachment, gender, and behavior with peers in preschool.

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M.R.C. Development & Integration of Behaviour Group, University of Cambridge, U.K.


40 4-year-old children and their mothers participated in a study investigating concurrent links between attachment and peer interactions. Security of attachment was assessed in the laboratory from reunion episodes following a 10-min separation. Focal child observations were carried out during indoor free play in preschool. Relations between insecure attachment and peer interactions were different for boys and girls. Insecure boys showed more aggressive, disruptive, assertive, controlling, and attention-seeking behavior than secure children. Insecure girls showed more dependent behavior than secure children but less assertive and controlling behavior, and more positive expressive behavior and compliance. Secure girls and secure boys did not differ significantly. Gender differences in social behavior may be accounted for by a subgroup of children, those classified as insecure, and the same attachment classification may lead to different predictions depending on whether the child is a boy or a girl.

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