Stability of Attachment and Later Relationship Functioning

There is some evidence that attachment status is a stable phenomenon, as evidenced by concordance between security in the Strange Situation during infancy and in the Adult Attachment Interview during adolescence or early adulthood. Specifically, secure infants become autonomous adults, while avoidant infants become dismissing and ambivalent infants become preoccupied. Instability in attachment classifications over time seems to be linked to salient life events. Events that may redirect secure infants toward patterns of insecurity in adolescence and adulthood include maltreatment, the loss of a parent, parental divorce, or a serious illness for the parent or child.

Strange Situation classifications in infancy are also predictive of later relationship functioning. Infants classified as secure show more positive emotions toward their parents at two years of age and have better communication with their parents during middle childhood than infants classified as insecure. Patterns of attachment in infancy are also predictive of the quality of relationships with people other than parents. For example, children who are securely attached to their caregivers have better relationships with teachers, peers, and close friends.

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