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Attachment states of mind and inferred childhood experiences in maltreated and comparison adolescents from low-income families

  • Glenn I. Roisman (a1), Fred A. Rogosch (a2), Dante Cicchetti (a1) (a2), Ashley M. Groh (a3), John D. Haltigan (a4), Katherine C. Haydon (a5), Ashley S. Holland (a6) and Ryan D. Steele (a1)...

Abstract

This paper reports the first large-sample investigation of the maltreatment-related correlates of low-income adolescents’ narratives about their childhood experiences with primary caregivers, as assessed with a modified version of the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) and based on official reports of abuse and neglect (maltreated n = 214, nonmaltreated n = 140; M age = 16.7 years). Drawing on factor-analytic and taxometric evidence indicating that AAI narratives vary along two state of mind (i.e., dismissing and preoccupied) and two inferred childhood experience (i.e., maternal and paternal) dimensions, here we demonstrate that the experience of maltreatment, particularly when chronic, is associated with increased risk for dismissing and preoccupied states of mind and more negative inferred childhood experiences. Although such maltreatment-related associations were generally not specific to any of the four AAI dimensions, the experience of physical and/or sexual abuse was uniquely associated with preoccupied states of mind and negative inferred paternal experiences even after controlling for the other AAI dimensions. More extensive paternal perpetration of maltreatment also was uniquely related to more negative inferred paternal experiences.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Glenn I. Roisman, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, 51 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455; E-mail: roism001@umn.edu.

References

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