Attention and Executive Functions as Mediators of Attachment and Behavior Problems

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the relation between early parent-child interactions and subsequent behavior problems and how certain cognitive processes mediate this relation. Specifically, this study investigated whether attention, inhibition, and planning skills mediate the relation between attachment security and behavior problems. Data were collected as part of the National Institute of Child Health and Development-Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development when children (N = 1004) were between 36 months and the third grade. Results from structural equation models indicated that sustained attention mediated the relation between disorganized attachment and social problems. Planning mediated the relation between disorganized attachment and subsequent thought problems, attention problems, and delinquent behavior. Avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized attachment directly predicted several behavior problems. Implications for theory and future research are discussed.

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