Attachment in adolescence: A move to the level of emotion regulation


Allen, J. P., & Miga, E. M. (2010). Attachment in adolescence: A move to the level of emotion regulation. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships , 27 (2), 181-190.


The early adolescent’s state of mind in the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) is more closely linked to social interactions with peers, who are unlikely to serve as attachment figures, than it is to (i) qualities of the adolescent’s interactions with parents, (ii) the AAI of the adolescent’s mother, or (iii) the adolescent’s prior Strange Situation behavior. This unexpected finding suggests the value of reconceptualizing AAI autonomy/security as a marker of the adolescent’s capacity for emotion regulation in social interactions. Supporting this, we note that the AAI was originally validated not as a marker of attachment experiences or expectations with one’s caregivers, but as a predictor of caregiving capacity sufficient to produce secure offspring. As such, the AAI may be fruitfully viewed as primarily assessing social emotion regulation capacities that support both strong caregiving skills and strong skills relating with peers.