Allen, J., McElhaney, K. B., Land, D., Kuperminc, G., Moore, C., O’Beirne-Kelly, H., & Kilmer, S. L. (2003). A Secure Base in Adolescence: Markers of Attachment Security in the Mother–Adolescent Relationship. Child Development, 74(1), 292-307.
This study sought to identify ways in which adolescent attachment security, as assessed via the Adult Attachment Interview, is manifest in qualities of the secure base provided by the mother– adolescent relationship. Assessments included data coded from mother–adolescent interactions, test-based data, and adolescent self-reports obtained from an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of moderately at-risk 9th and 10th graders. This study found several robust markers of adolescent attachment security in the mother–adolescent relationship. Each of these markers was found to contribute unique variance to explaining adolescent security, and in combination, they accounted for as much as 40% of the raw variance in adolescent security. These findings suggest that security is closely connected to the workings of the mother–adolescent relationship via a secure-base phenomenon, in which the teen can explore independence in thought and speech from the secure base of a maternal relationship characterized by maternal attunement to the adolescent and maternal supportiveness.