Patterns of relatedness in maltreated and nonmaltreated children: Connections among multiple representational models

Michael Lynch, Dante Cicchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined children's reports of relatedness to multiple relationship figures in a population of low SES maltreated (N = 115) and nonmaltreated (N = 100) children, ranging in age from 7 to 13 years old. Relatedness scales were administered to children as part of individual interviews given in the context of a summer day camp. Consistent with prior normative research, it was found that the two dimensions of relatedness–emotional quality and psychological proximity-seeking–are negatively correlated with each other. Moreover, patterns of relatedness, based on the configuration of children's scores on both dimensions, reflect group differences, with maltreated children more likely to have confused patterns of relatedness and nonmaltreated children more likely to have optimal patterns. Connections were examined among children's self-reported feelings of relatedness for different relationship figures. Substantial concordance was found among the children's reports of relatedness with their mothers, their teachers, and their best friends. Evidence is presented to support the claim that children form both global and specific models of relationships. The findings are discussed in terms of attachment and self-system theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-226
Number of pages20
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Volume3
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes

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