Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 171–183 | Cite as

Internalizing and Externalizing Problems as Correlates of Self-Reported Attachment Style and Perceived Parental Rearing in Normal Adolescents

  • Peter Muris
  • Cor Meesters
  • Silvia van den Berg


The current study examined relationships between attachment style, parental rearing behaviors, and symptoms of internalizing and externalizing in a large sample of nonreferred adolescents (N = 742). Adolescents completed (a) a single-item measure of attachment style, (b) the child version of the EMBU, a questionnaire measuring perceptions of parental rearing behaviors, and (c) the Youth Self-Report, an index of severity of internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Results showed that attachment style was related to internalizing as well as externalizing symptoms. More specifically, adolescents who classified themselves as avoidantly or ambivalently attached displayed higher levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms than adolescents who classified themselves as securely attached. Furthermore, perceived parental rearing behaviors were also associated with internalizing and externalizing symptoms. That is, low levels of emotional warmth and high levels of rejection and overprotection were accompanied by high levels of psychopathological symptoms. Finally, both attachment and parental rearing behaviors accounted for a unique proportion of the variance in internalizing symptoms. Yet, when predicting externalizing symptoms, only parental rearing behaviors declared a significant proportion of the variance.

attachment parental rearing behaviors internalizing externalizing adolescents 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Achenbach, T.M. (1991). Manual for the Youth Self-Report. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Department of PsychiatryGoogle Scholar
  2. Achenbach, T.M., McConaughy, S.H., & Howell, C.T. (1987). Child/adolescent behavioral and emotional problems: Implications of cross-informant correlations for situational specificity. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 213-232.Google Scholar
  3. Ainsworth, M.D.S., Blehar, M.C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  4. Armsden, G.C., & Greenberg, M.T. (1987). The Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment: Individual differences and their relationship to psychological well-being in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 16, 427-454.Google Scholar
  5. Bartholomew, K. (1990). Avoidance of intimacy: An attachment perspective. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7, 147-178.Google Scholar
  6. Bartholomew, K., & Horowitz, L. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244.Google Scholar
  7. Boldizar, J.P. (1991). Assessing sex typing and androgyny in children: The Children's Sex Role Inventory. Developmental Psychopathology, 27, 505-515.Google Scholar
  8. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Volume 1. Attachment. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  9. Bretherton, I. (1985). Attachment theory. Retrospect and prospect. In I. Bretherton & E. Waters (Eds.), Growing points of attachment theory and research. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 50, 3-35.Google Scholar
  10. Campos, J.J., Barrett, K.C., Lamb, M.E., Goldsmith, H.H., & Stenberg, C. (1983). Socioemotional development. In M.M. Haidt & J.J. Campos (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology. Volume 2. Infancy and psychobiology (pp. 783-915). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Castro, J., Toro, J., Van der Ende, J., & Arrindell, W. A. (1993) Exploring the feasibility of assessing perceived parental rearing styles in Spanish children with the EMBU. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 39, 47-57.Google Scholar
  12. Cicchetti, D., Toth, S.L., & Lynch, M. (1995). Bowlby's dream comes full circle: The application of attachment theory to risk and psychopathology. In T.H. Ollendick & R.J. Prinz (Eds.), Advances in clinical child psychology (vol. 17, pp. 1-75). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dozier, M., Stovall, K.C., & Albus, K.E. (1999). Attachment and psychopathology in adulthood. In J. Cassidy & P.R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment. Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 497-519). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  14. Garber, J., Robinson, N. S., & Valentiner, D. (1997). The relation between parenting and adolescent depression: Self-worth as a mediator. Journal of Adolescent Research, 12, 12-33.Google Scholar
  15. Graham, C.A., & Easterbrooks, M.A. (2000). School-aged children's vulnerability to depressive symptomatology: The role of attachment security, maternal depressive symptomatology, and economic risk. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 201-213.Google Scholar
  16. Greenberg, M.T. (1999). Attachment and psychopathology in childhood. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment. Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 469-496). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  17. Greenberg, M.T., Speltz, M.L., DeKlyen, M., & Endriga, M.C. (1991). Attachment security in preschoolers with and without externalizing problems: A replication. Development and Psychopathology, 3, 413-430.Google Scholar
  18. Hanson, R.F., & Spratt, E.G. (2000). Reactive attachment disorder: What we know about the disorder and implications for treatment. Child Maltreatment: Journal of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, 5, 137-145.Google Scholar
  19. Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 511-524.Google Scholar
  20. Muris, P., Bosma, H., Meesters, C., & Schouten, E. (1998). Perceived parental rearing behaviours: A confirmatory factor analytic study of the Dutch EMBU for children. Personality and Individual Differences, 24, 439-442.Google Scholar
  21. Muris, P., Mayer, B., & Meesters, C. (2000). Self-reported attachment style, anxiety, and depression in children. Social Behavior and Personality, 28, 157-162.Google Scholar
  22. Muris, P., & Meesters, C. (2002). Attachment, behavioral inhibition, and anxiety disorders symptoms in normal adolescents. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 24, 97-106.Google Scholar
  23. Muris, P., Meesters, C., Merckelbach, H., & Hülsenbeck, P. (2000). Worry in children is related to perceived parental rearing and attachment. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38, 487-497.Google Scholar
  24. Muris, P., Meesters, C., Melick, M. van, & Zwambag, L. (2001). Self-reported attachment style, attachment quality, and symptoms of anxiety and depression in young adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 809-818Google Scholar
  25. Siqueland, L., Kendall, P.C., & Steinberg, L. (1996). Anxiety in children: Perceived family environments and family interaction. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 25, 225-237.Google Scholar
  26. Vance, H.B. (1998). Psychological assessment of children: Best practices for school and clinical settings. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  27. Warren, S.L., Huston, L., Egeland, B., & Sroufe, L.A. (1997). Child and adolescent anxiety disorders and early attachment. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36, 637-644.Google Scholar
  28. Wasserman, G.A., Miller, L.S., Pinner, E., & Jaramillo, B. (1996). Parenting predictors of early conduct problems in urban, high-risk boys. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 35, 1227-1236.Google Scholar
  29. Wenar, C., & Kerig, P. (2000). Developmental psychopathology: From infancy through adolescence (fourth edition). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Muris
    • 1
  • Cor Meesters
    • 1
  • Silvia van den Berg
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Medical, Clinical, and Experimental PsychologyMaastricht UniversityThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Medical, Clinical, and Experimental PsychologyMaastricht UniversityThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations