Previous literature highlights attachment security as a key antecedent of early affective regulation that is frequently associated with positive socioemotional outcomes in early childhood. Less is known of attachment in adolescence, particularly within underserved, stress-exposed families. The current study investigated relations among adolescents’ secure base knowledge (an indicator of secure attachment), internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, and stress and trauma exposure.
Participants were 83 inner-city adolescents (ages 13–18 years; 72.3% African American) and one of their primary caregivers (75.9% biological mothers). Secure base knowledge was assessed utilizing the Attachment Script Assessment (ASA).
After controlling for adolescents’ exposure to potentially stressful or traumatic events, secure base knowledge uniquely predicted fewer internalizing, but not externalizing, problems. Analyses controlled for youth receptive vocabulary, age, and gender.
This study provides further evidence that youth attachment security contributes uniquely to fewer youth internalizing problems even within the context of numerous contextual risks. Furthermore, results add to the understanding the utility of the ASA among youth in an urban context.