Attachment and cognitive skills: An investigation of mediating mechanisms

Erin O'Connor, Kathleen McCartney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Associations between maternal attachment patterns and cognitive skills at first grade were examined, and mediators of identified associations tested using Phase I and II data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Care and Youth Development, a prospective study of 1364 children and families from birth through sixth grade. There were three main findings. First, ambivalent and insecure/other attachment patterns were negative predictors of cognitive skills. Second, the association between ambivalent attachment and cognitive skills was mediated by children's behaviors related to testing. Third, the association between insecure/other attachment and cognitive skills was mediated by children's exploration, maternal instruction, children's social relationships, and children's behaviors related to testing. Implications for attachment theory and education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-476
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007



  • Attachment
  • Cognitive skills
  • Mediators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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