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Attach Hum Dev. 2010 Nov;12(6):505-27. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2010.504542.

Mothers' Adult Attachment Interview ratings predict preschool children's IQ following domestic violence exposure.

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University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


This study examined links between mothers' Adult Attachment Interview ratings (AAI; Main, Goldwyn, & Hesse, 2003) and their preschool children's IQ among 70 families who had experienced domestic violence. As predicted, children displayed significantly stronger verbal and perceptual-organizational abilities when their mothers exhibited more secure, i.e. coherent, states of mind regarding attachment. Mothers' coherence of mind on the AAI explained 18% of the variance in children's Verbal IQ and 12% of the variance in children's Performance IQ, after controlling for maternal education. Mothers' attachment security also was related to children's total IQ score, but this association was accounted for by effects on children's Verbal IQ. Children whose mothers were rated as unclassifiable on the AAI and those whose mothers were unresolved/insecure had lower IQ scores. Although mothers who appeared more secure on the AAI were more sensitively responsive toward their children, mediational analyses suggested that there was a direct link between mothers' security and children's IQ that was not explained by sensitive parenting. This suggests that clinical interventions for children exposed to domestic violence should include helping their mothers achieve coherent ways of thinking about their own childhood experiences, including past trauma.

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