Middle childhood attachment is related to adolescent early maladaptive schemas

Kexin Li, Theodore E.A. Waters, Nadja Bodner, Bien Cuyvers, Chloë Finet, Melisse Houbrechts, Minoo Pouravari, Leen Van Vlierberghe, Ba Tuan Vu, Rui Yang, Guy Bosmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is argued that attachment is crucial in the manifestation of early maladaptive schemas (EMSs). However, the longitudinal studies needed to help understanding the developmental trajectories associating attachment and EMSs are lacking. Hence, in this study we investigated whether middle childhood attachment and its subsequent changes across the transition to adolescence are related in understanding the level of EMSs at the beginning of late adolescence and EMSs changes during adolescence. One hundred and fifty-seven children (Meanage = 10.91 at baseline) participated in a five-wave six year longitudinal study in which attachment was assessed across all waves at both explicit and implicit processing levels and EMSs were assessed during the last two waves. Results indicated that both levels of attachment were related to the EMSs cross-sectionally in adolescence (wave 5), but only explicit attachment at baseline was longitudinally related to adolescent EMSs after six years. Moreover, attachment changes across the study linked to adolescent EMSs. However, no links between attachment and changes in EMSs were found. This study provides longitudinal evidence that both attachment in middle childhood and its changes during subsequent development until late adolescence are important in understanding the later EMSs level in late adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Adolescent development
  • Attachment theory
  • Childhood development
  • Schema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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