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      A Meta-analysis of Attachment to Parents and Delinquency

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          Abstract

          To investigate the link between attachment to parents and delinquency, and the potential moderating effects of age and sex, 74 published and unpublished manuscripts ( N = 55,537 participants) were subjected to a multilevel meta-analysis. A mean small to moderate effect size was found ( r = 0.18). Poor attachment to parents was significantly linked to delinquency in boys and girls. Stronger effect sizes were found for attachment to mothers than attachment to fathers. In addition, stronger effect sizes were found if the child and the parent had the same sex compared to cross-sex pairs of children and parents. Age of the participants moderated the link between attachment and delinquency: larger effect sizes were found in younger than in older participants. It can be concluded that attachment is associated with juvenile delinquency. Attachment could therefore be a target for intervention to reduce or prevent future delinquent behavior in juveniles.

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          Most cited references 31

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          Attachments beyond infancy.

           M D Ainsworth (1989)
          Attachment theory is extended to pertain to developmental changes in the nature of children's attachments to parents and surrogate figures during the years beyond infancy, and to the nature of other affectional bonds throughout the life cycle. Various types of affectional bonds are examined in terms of the behavioral systems characteristic of each and the ways in which these systems interact. Specifically, the following are discussed: (a) the caregiving system that underlies parents' bonds to their children, and a comparison of these bonds with children's attachments to their parents; (b) sexual pair-bonds and their basic components entailing the reproductive, attachment, and caregiving systems; (c) friendships both in childhood and adulthood, the behavioral systems underlying them, and under what circumstances they may become enduring bonds; and (d) kinship bonds (other than those linking parents and their children) and why they may be especially enduring.
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            Parental caregiving and child externalizing behavior in nonclinical samples: a meta-analysis.

            A meta-analysis of 47 studies was used to shed light on inconsistencies in the concurrent association between parental caregiving and child externalizing behavior. Parent-child associations were strongest when the measure of caregiving relied on observations or interviews, as opposed to questionnaires, and when the measure tapped combinations of parent behaviors (patterns), as opposed to single behaviors. Stronger parent-child associations were also found for older than for younger children, and for mothers than for fathers. Finally, externalizing was more strongly linked to parental caregiving for boys than for girls, especially among preadolescents and their mothers. The meta-analysis helps account for inconsistencies in findings across previous studies and supports theories emphasizing reciprocity of parent and child behavior.
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              Sex, attachment, and the development of reproductive strategies.

              This target article presents an integrated evolutionary model of the development of attachment and human reproductive strategies. It is argued that sex differences in attachment emerge in middle childhood, have adaptive significance in both children and adults, and are part of sex-specific life history strategies. Early psychosocial stress and insecure attachment act as cues of environmental risk, and tend to switch development towards reproductive strategies favoring current reproduction and higher mating effort. However, due to sex differences in life history trade-offs between mating and parenting, insecure males tend to adopt avoidant strategies, whereas insecure females tend to adopt anxious/ambivalent strategies, which maximize investment from kin and mates. Females are expected to shift to avoidant patterns when environmental risk is more severe. Avoidant and ambivalent attachment patterns also have different adaptive values for boys and girls, in the context of same-sex competition in the peer group: in particular, the competitive and aggressive traits related to avoidant attachment can be favored as a status-seeking strategy for males. Finally, adrenarche is proposed as the endocrine mechanism underlying the reorganization of attachment in middle childhood, and the implications for the relationship between attachment and sexual development are explored. Sex differences in the development of attachment can be fruitfully integrated within the broader framework of adaptive plasticity in life history strategies, thus contributing to a coherent evolutionary theory of human development.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                +31-20-5251313 , +31-20-5251200 , m.hoeve@uva.nl
                Journal
                J Abnorm Child Psychol
                J Abnorm Child Psychol
                Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
                Springer US (Boston )
                0091-0627
                1573-2835
                27 January 2012
                27 January 2012
                July 2012
                : 40
                : 5
                : 771-785
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Research Institute Child Development and Education, University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 94208, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [2 ]Department of Developmental Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
                [3 ]Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NWO-NSCR), Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [4 ]Department of Criminology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [5 ]Institue of Family and Child Care Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
                Article
                9608
                10.1007/s10802-011-9608-1
                3375078
                22278802
                © The Author(s) 2012
                Categories
                Article
                Custom metadata
                © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

                sex-differences, delinquency, age effects, attachment, meta-analysis

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