The association of caregiver stress and violence exposure to attachment organization and schema development during middle childhood: An urban perspective




Popple, Jody Anne

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This study investigated caregiver (N = 48) stress and exposure to violence in relation to children's (ages 8 to 12 years, N = 50) attachment representations and views of self, world, and future. Life stress was measured using the Life Experience Survey (LES; Sarason, Johnson & Siegel, 1978). Attachment organizations were assessed using the Separation Anxiety Test (SAT; Slough & Greenberg, 1990) and the Security Scale (Kerns, Klepac & Cole, 1996). The Cognitive Triad Inventory for Children (CTI-C; Kaslow, Stark, Printz, Livingston, & Tsai, 1992) assessed children's view of self, world, and future. Level of violence exposure in children was measured by the Things I Have Seen and Heard survey (Ricthers & Martinez, 1990). Using an alpha of .05, a series of Pearson r correlations were performed to test the relationships among caregivers' life stressors and perception of their impact, children's attachment classifications, children's level of violence exposure and children's view of self, world and future. Predictions were parially supported A signficant association was found between increased caregivers' stressors on the LES and their children's less secure attachment status, as measured by the Security Scale. Contrary to predictions, caregivers' perception of life stressors as negatively impacting correlated with children's increased self-reliance. Children's reports of greater violence exposure in association with lower scores on the Security Scale scores implied less secure attachment organization. Data supported the prediction that children's exposure to violence negatively correlated with views of self, world and future. A stepwise multiple regression, performed at α = .05, revealed the only attachment measure related to a CTI-C scale was between SAT self-reliant and CTI-C worldview. Preliminary analyses indicated a gender differences among child participants. Hence, attachment data for boys and girls were analyzed together and separately (boys, n = 19; girls, n = 31) which revealed additional information that both supported and countered predictions. Further exploration of attachment measures tailored for African-Amercian school-aged children is needed. Clinical and research implications were discussed.



Developmental psychology, Psychology, Attachment, Caregiver, Middle childhood, Stress, Urban children, Violence