Children's Representations of Attachment Relationships in Family Drawings

Gail Fury, Elizabeth A. Carlson, L. Alan Sroufe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Children's representational models of self and attachment figures were investigated in family drawings at age 8-9 in a high-risk, racially mixed sample. Drawings were scored using a series of specific signs and a group of theoretically derived, global rating scales. When specific signs were treated in a combined way (versus separately), they were significantly related to early attachment history in predicted ways. Similarly, specific rating scales were found to be significantly related to early relationship history. Analyses exploring the relative contributions of early attachment history and contemporary measures of child IQ, life stress, and emotional functioning revealed that even after contemporary influences were taken into account, attachment history made a significant contribution to the prediction of negative drawing outcome. Results were interpreted as supporting an organizational perspective on development where qualitative differences in early relationships are hypothesized to shape core representational models of the self and to exert an ongoing influence on later representational processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1154-1164
Number of pages11
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1997


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