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Narrowing the Transmission Gap: A Synthesis of Three Decades of Research on Intergenerational Transmission of Attachment

Verhage, ML; Schuengel, C; Madigan, S; Fearon, R; Oosterman, M; Cassibba, R; Bakermans-Kranenburg, MJ; (2016) Narrowing the Transmission Gap: A Synthesis of Three Decades of Research on Intergenerational Transmission of Attachment. Psychological Bulletin , 142 (4) pp. 337-366. 10.1037/bul0000038. Green open access

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Abstract

wenty years ago, meta-analytic results (k = 19) confirmed the association between caregiver attachment representations and child–caregiver attachment (Van IJzendoorn, 1995). A test of caregiver sensitivity as the mechanism behind this intergenerational transmission showed an intriguing “transmission gap.” Since then, the intergenerational transmission of attachment and the transmission gap have been studied extensively, and now extend to diverse populations from all over the globe. Two decades later, the current review revisited the effect sizes of intergenerational transmission, the heterogeneity of the transmission effects, and the size of the transmission gap. Analyses were carried out with a total of 95 samples (total N = 4,819). All analyses confirmed intergenerational transmission of attachment, with larger effect sizes for secure-autonomous transmission (r = .31) than for unresolved transmission (r = .21), albeit with significantly smaller effect sizes than 2 decades earlier (r = .47 and r = .31, respectively). Effect sizes were moderated by risk status of the sample, biological relatedness of child–caregiver dyads, and age of the children. Multivariate moderator analyses showed that unpublished and more recent studies had smaller effect sizes than published and older studies. Path analyses showed that the transmission could not be fully explained by caregiver sensitivity, with more recent studies narrowing but not bridging the “transmission gap.” Implications for attachment theory as well as future directions for research are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).

Type: Article
Title: Narrowing the Transmission Gap: A Synthesis of Three Decades of Research on Intergenerational Transmission of Attachment
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/bul0000038
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/bul0000038
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 APA, all rights reserved. This article may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477395
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