The significance of attachment security for children's social competence with peers: A meta-analytic study

Ashley M. Groh, R. Pasco Fearon, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Ryan D. Steele, Glenn I. Roisman

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281 Scopus citations


This meta-analytic review examines the association between attachment during the early life course and social competence with peers during childhood, and compares the strength of this association with those for externalizing and internalizing symptomatology. Based on 80 independent samples (N = 4441), the association between security and peer competence was significant (d = 0.39, CI 0.32; 0.47) and not moderated by the age at which peer competence was assessed. Avoidance (d = 0.17, CI 0.05; 0.30), resistance (d = 0.29, CI 0.09; 0.48), and disorganization (d = 0.25, CI 0.10; 0.40) were significantly associated with lower peer competence. Attachment security was significantly more strongly associated with peer competence than internalizing (but not externalizing) symptomatology. Discussion focuses on the significance of early attachment for the development of peer competence versus externalizing and internalizing psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-136
Number of pages34
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by a postdoctoral fellowship provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (T32-HD07376) through the Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to Ashley M. Groh. Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg and Marinus H. Van IJzendoorn were supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (MJBK: VICI MHvIJ: SPINOZA).


  • attachment
  • meta-analysis
  • peers
  • psychopathology
  • social competence


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