Secure attachment in infancy predicts context-dependent emotion expression in middle childhood.

Alexandra R. Tabachnick, Yunqi He, Lindsay Zajac, Elizabeth A. Carlson, Mary Dozier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attachment security has been linked to healthy socioemotional development, but less is known about how secure attachment in infancy relates to emotional functioning in middle childhood, particularly across multiple contexts. The present study examined associations between secure attachment in infancy and children’s context-dependent emotion expression during a parent–child interaction at age 9 (N = 78) among families with Child Protective Services involvement (i.e., children at risk for emotion dysregulation). The results indicated that children classified as securely attached in infancy exhibited less task-incongruent affect (i.e., less positive affect during a distressing discussion, less negative affect during a positive discussion) and a greater decrease in negative affect from a distressing discussion to a positive discussion than children classified as insecurely attached. In addition, secure children were rated as more appropriate in their emotion expression than insecure children. The present study highlights attachment as a promising intervention target for children at risk for emotion dysregulation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association


  • attachment
  • development
  • emotion regulation
  • parent-child relationship

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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