Attachment security has long been recognized as one of the hallmarks of adaptive social development in infancy and childhood, and is increasingly being recognized for its similar role in adolescence and adulthood. In adolescence, attachment security reflects the ability to openly and straightforwardly seek out and value close relationships while maintaining perspective and balance within those relationships.
Numerous studies have identified the importance of attachment security in teenagers, linking poor attachment security to a range of significant mental health outcomes from criminal behavior to substance abuse, even across decades. Additionally, studies find these outcomes may be passed onto future generations. But few studies have examined those factors that actually influence the development of adolescent attachment security. Thus, we designed this study to explore that question.
We conducted an intensive, longitudinal study of 101 at-risk ninth and tenth graders, assessing attachment security via an in-depth, hour-long interview that tapped the teens’ ability to think openly and clearly about their experiences in close relationships. Although attachment security is generally quite stable, we found that adolescents became increasingly insecure in the face of stressors that overwhelmed their coping abilities while also cutting them off from opportunities to rely on close relationships for support.
Stephanie Somerville | EurekAlert!
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