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Childhood abuse and neglect are prospectively associated with scripted attachment representations in young adulthood

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2020

Marissa D. Nivison*
Affiliation:
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Christopher R. Facompré
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA
K. Lee Raby
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Jeffry A. Simpson
Affiliation:
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Glenn I. Roisman*
Affiliation:
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Theodore E. A. Waters
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
*
Author for correspondence: Glenn I. Roisman or Marissa D. Nivison, Institute of Child Development, 51 East River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN55455; E-mail: roism001@umn.edu or nivis004@umn.edu.
Author for correspondence: Glenn I. Roisman or Marissa D. Nivison, Institute of Child Development, 51 East River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN55455; E-mail: roism001@umn.edu or nivis004@umn.edu.

Abstract

Waters, Ruiz, and Roisman (2017) recently published evidence based on the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation (MLSRA) that sensitive caregiving during childhood is associated with higher levels of secure base script knowledge during the Adult Attachment Interview (AAIsbs). At present, however, little is known about the role of variation in atypical caregiving, including abuse and/or neglect, in explaining individual differences in AAIsbs. This study revisited data from the MLSRA (N = 157) to examine the association between experiencing abuse and/or neglect in the first 17.5 years of life and secure base script knowledge measured at ages 19 and 26 years. Several aspects of abuse and/or neglect experiences were assessed, including perpetrator identity, timing, and type. Regressions revealed that childhood abuse and/or neglect was robustly associated with lower AAIsbs scores in young adulthood, above and beyond previously documented associations with maternal sensitivity and demographic covariates. Follow-up analyses provided evidence that the predictive significance of abuse for secure base script knowledge was specific to perpetration by parental figures, rather than non-caregivers. Exploratory analyses indicated that abuse and/or neglect: (a) in middle childhood and adolescence (but not infancy and early childhood) and (b) physical abuse (but not sexual abuse or neglect) were uniquely associated with lower AAIsbs scores.

Type
Regular Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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