An Examination of the Associations between Parent-Child Attachment Security, Negativity, Aggression, and Delinquency
Previous research has shown that children who are more securely attached are less likely to engage in risky behavior or to resort to negativity and aggression. The purpose of this project was to test whether the relationship between child attachment security and delinquency is explained by negativity and aggression. Data were drawn from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study of Early Child Care which followed a sample of 1140 families from birth through the school years. For this study we examined a behavioral measure of attachment that was administered at 36 months, child negativity and aggression were rated at first grade, and delinquency and risky behavior were rated at fifth grade. Pearson’s correlations revealed that less securely attached children were more likely to display negativity and delinquent behavior. Furthermore, more aggressive children were more likely to display delinquent behavior and risky behavior. Attachment security was not significantly associated with aggression or risky behavior. In addition, negativity was not significantly associated with delinquency or risky behavior. To examine whether negativity and aggression might explain the significant association between security and delinquency we tested a multiple mediation model in MPlus. This analysis revealed significant direct effects between security and negativity, and between aggression and delinquency, but no significant mediation. The present study is among the first to provide a longitudinal examination of the associations between attachment security, negativity, aggression and delinquency. Future research could examinee other potential mediators of the association between secure attachment and delinquency.