Continuities and changes in infant attachment patterns across two generations

K. Lee Raby, Ryan D. Steele, Elizabeth A. Carlson, L. Alan Sroufe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This study examined the intergenerational continuities and changes in infant attachment patterns within a higher-risk longitudinal sample of 55 female participants born into poverty. Infant attachment was assessed using the Strange Situation when participants were 12 and 18 months as well as several decades later with participants’ children. Paralleling earlier findings from this sample on the stability of attachment patterns from infancy to young adulthood, results provided evidence for intergenerational continuities in attachment disorganization but not security. Children of adults with histories of infant attachment disorganization were at an increased risk of forming disorganized attachments. Although changes in infant attachment patterns across the two generations were not correlated with individuals’ caregiving experiences or interpersonal stresses and supports during childhood and adolescence, higher quality social support during adulthood was associated with intergenerational changes from insecure to secure infant–caregiver attachment relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-428
Number of pages15
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 4 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to W. Andrew Collins [grant number R01HD054850] and a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to Dante Cicchetti [grant number T32MH015755-33]. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • continuity and change
  • infant attachment disorganization
  • infant attachment security
  • intergenerational transmission
  • social support


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