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February 2, 2006

Attachment and development: A prospective, longitudinal study from birth to adulthood

L. Alan Sroufe

Attachment & Human Development
Issue: Volume 7, Number 4 / December 2005
Pages: 349 - 367

Attachment, continuity, developmental process, early experience and development, developmental organization


"There is much to digest in a 30 year longitudinal study of the developing person (Sroufe, Egeland, Carlson, & Collins, 2005a). The following paper summarizes some key points regarding the place of infant attachment in the developmental course. It is argued that understanding the role of attachment entails grasping the organizational nature of the attachment construct and embracing a non-linear transactional model. Using such concepts, attachment history was shown in the Minnesota study to be clearly related to the growth of self-reliance, the capacity for emotional regulation, and the emergence and course of social competence, among other things. Moreover, specific patterns of attachment had implications for both normal development and pathology. Even more important than such linkages, however, study of the place of early attachment in later adaptation reveals much about developmental processes underlying both continuity and change. Findings are overviewed concerning the complex links between attachment and ultimate outcomes and the preservation of early patterns even during times of change. In all, these findings have implications both for future research and for clinical application."