Parent and peer attachment in early adolescent depression

Gay C. Armsden, Elizabeth McCauley, Mark T. Greenberg, Patrick M. Burke, Jeffrey R. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

287 Scopus citations


Insecure attachment relations have been theorized to play a significant role in the development of depressogenic modes of adaptation and to thus form a vulnerability factor for the emergence of depressive disorder in children. This study examined security of parent and peer attachment among four groups of early adolescents: clinically depressed, nondepressed psychiatric controls, nonpsychiatric controls, and adolescents with resolved depression. Depressed adolescents reported significantly less secure parent attachment than either of the control groups, and less secure peer attachment than the nonpsychiatric control group. Attachment security of adolescents with resolved depression was on a par with the nonpsychiatric control group. Among all psychiatric patients, security of attachment to parents was negatively correlated with severity of depression according to interview and selfreport ratings. Less secure attachment to parents, but generally not to peers, was also related to more maladaptive attributional styles, presence of separation anxiety disorder, and history of suicidal ideation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-697
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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