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Reactive attachment disorder symptoms and prosocial behavior in middle childhood: the role of Secure Base Script knowledge

  • Cuyvers, Bien; 110198;
  • Vervoort, Eleonora;
  • Bosmans, Guy; 22353;
Publication Date
Nov 04, 2020
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BACKGROUND: Children with attachment disorder show prosocial behavior problems. Children with a reactive attachment disorder show inhibited and emotionally withdrawn behavior. Consequently, these children typically display prosocial behavior problems. However, the underlying mechanism between reactive attachment disorder and prosocial behavior problems is still unclear and findings in literature are mixed. METHODS: The current study investigated the role of children's attachment representations in this association. Attachment representations reflect knowledge about a cognitive script regarding the attachment figure as a source for support (Secure Base Script). We tested whether secure base script knowledge 1) mediates or 2) moderates the link between reactive attachment disorder and prosocial behavior problems in 83 children (6-11 years; 83.1% boys) recruited from special education schools for children with behavioral problems. Children completed a pictorial Secure Base Script Test. Their reactive attachment disorder symptoms were assessed during an interview with the primary caregivers. Primary caregivers and teachers filled out a prosocial behavior questionnaire about the child. RESULTS: Results did not support the mediation hypothesis, but evidence for the moderation hypothesis was found. Secure base script knowledge attenuated the negative association between attachment disorder symptoms and prosocial behavior. CONCLUSIONS: These findings contribute to the discussion about the link between attachment representations and attachment disorders. / status: published

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