Gratitude: A Resilience Factor for More Securely Attached Children

Veronica Scott, Martine Verhees, Rudi De Raedt, Patricia Bijttebier, Michael W. Vasey, Magali Van de Walle, Theodore E.A. Waters, Guy Bosmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on the association between childhood attachment and depressive symptoms has primarily focused on the role of risk factors. This resulted in a lack of research on the role of potential resilience factors. In the current study, we suggest that middle childhood secure attachment is linked to adolescents’ trait gratitude, which is linked to the enhanced resilience against the development of depressive symptoms in adolescence. In a longitudinal study, we measured 157 children’s (9–12 years old, 48% boys) attachment appraisals (anxiety, avoidance, and trust), attachment representations (secure base script knowledge, and coherence) and depressive symptoms at baseline, and gratitude and depressive symptoms at follow-up two years later. Results supported our hypotheses that middle childhood attachment was robustly linked with adolescent trait gratitude. Moreover, trait gratitude indirectly linked middle childhood attachment avoidance, trust, and secure base script knowledge to change in depressive symptoms over time. These findings may help explain why more securely attached children are less likely to develop depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-430
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Attachment
  • Depression
  • Gratitude
  • Middle childhood
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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