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Exploring everyday state attachment dynamics in middle childhood

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2022

Martine W. F. T. Verhees*
Affiliation:
Clinical Psychology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium Quantitative Psychology and Individual Differences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Eva Ceulemans
Affiliation:
Quantitative Psychology and Individual Differences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Chloë Finet
Affiliation:
School Psychology and Development in Context, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Marinus H. van IJzendoorn
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, Faculty of Brain Sciences, UCL, University of London, London, UK
Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Affiliation:
Clinical Child and Family Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Guy Bosmans
Affiliation:
Clinical Psychology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
*
Corresponding author: Martine W. F. T. Verhees, email: martine.verhees@kuleuven.be

Abstract

The current study explored dynamics of secure state attachment expectations in everyday life in middle childhood, specifically state attachment carry-over and reactivity to experiences of caregiver support in the context of stress. In two independent samples (one community sample, N = 123; one adoption sample, N = 69), children (8–12 years) daily reported on their state attachment for respectively 14 and 7 consecutive days. Additionally, they reported daily on their experiences of distress and subsequent experiences of caregiver support. Results in both samples indicated that secure state attachment on a day-to-day basis is characterized by a significant positive carry-over effect, suggesting that state attachment fluctuations are (partially) self-predictive. In Study 1, experiencing no support following distress significantly related to intraindividual decreases in secure state attachment; in Study 2, experiencing effective support during distress related to intra-individual increases in secure state attachment. Taken together, the current studies provide novel and important insights into how state attachment temporally evolves on a day-to-day basis in middle childhood.

Type
Regular Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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