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Behavior disorders -- Children -- Analysis, Attachment disorders -- Children -- Analysis, Conduct disorders in children -- Risk factors


A small proportion of children exhibit extreme and persistent conduct problems through childhood. The present study employed the multiple-domain model of Greenberg and colleagues as the framework for person-oriented analyses examining whether parents' child attachment combines with parenting, family ecology, and child characteristics in particular configurations of risk that are linked to this problematic developmental pathway. Using prospective data from a community sample of adolescent mothers and their children, latent variable growth mixture modeling identified a normative trajectory with declining problem behaviors during the preschool period. Consistent with research on early-starter pathways, a distinct group of children featured a higher intercept and a positive slope, indicating an escalation in disruptive behaviors. Attachment security played a role in defining specific risk profiles associated with the probability of exhibiting this problem trajectory. Given particular patterns of risk exposure, secure attachment served a protective function. Avoidant, but not disorganized, attachment was associated with significantly higher likelihood of the disruptive problem trajectory. The results also indicated the general accumulation of risk was detrimental, but the particular configuration of risk made a difference. Overall, the findings suggest early attachment operates in conjunction with personal and contextual risk to distinguish the development of later problem behaviors.


This is the Publisher's PDF of an article published in Development and Psychopathology, Vol 17, Issue 2, 2005, copyright Cambridge University Press, available online at:

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