Session Abstract: There is widespread recognition that level of personality functioning, defined in terms of quality of relationships with the self and others, impacts development toward positive adaptation or pathology (e.g., Bender, 2019). Affective expectations of the self, others, and the environment form in the context of attachment relationships in infancy and continue to develop across the lifespan through ongoing transactions between individuals and their environments (Sroufe et al., 1999). This paper examines associations between early childhood attachment security and adolescent personality functioning in a high-risk sample within a developmental psychopathology framework, taking into account transactional and cascade effects among separate but interrelated constructs – emotional and behavioral dysregulation and caregiver-child interactions. Data from 2,268 children (1165 male; 1103 female) and caregivers participating in Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study (FFCWS; Reichman et al., 2001), a longitudinal study following a high-risk cohort, are used to test three hypotheses. It is anticipated that higher attachment security at age three will predict lower levels of dysregulation and negative parenting attitudes and behaviors, and these constructs are expected to display relative stability across childhood and adolescence. Second, it is anticipated that dysregulation and negative parenting attitudes and behaviors will be mutually reinforcing, leading to higher levels of dysregulation and negative parenting, or vice versa, over time. Finally, it is hypothesized that greater attachment security in early childhood will initiate a developmental cascade toward higher level of personality functioning in adolescence via lower levels of dysregulation and negative parenting across early and middle childhood. In tracing these emergent processes, this study may identify antecedents that promote or undercut adaptive or pathological personality functioning. Moreover, understanding how these processes unfold over time can inform prevention and intervention efforts aimed at facilitating optimal development of identity, self-regulation of emotions and behaviors, and mutually enhancing interpersonal relationships.

Corresponding Author: Emily T. O'Gorman, MS | University of Toledo

Presentation 1 Title: Developmental Cascades from Early Childhood Attachment Security to Adolescent Level of Personality Functioning in a High-Risk Sample


Emily T. O'Gorman, MS | University of Toledo

Gregory J. Meyer, PhD | University of Toledo

Leave a Reply