La Trobe
1145164_Opie,J_2021.pdf (2.85 MB)

Early childhood attachment stability and change: a meta-analysis

Download (2.85 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2022-01-27, 01:40 authored by Jessica OpieJessica Opie, Jennifer McIntoshJennifer McIntosh, TB Esler, R Duschinsky, C George, A Schore, EJ Kothe, ES Tan, CJ Greenwood, CA Olsson
Examining degrees of stability in attachment throughout early childhood is important for understanding developmental pathways and for informing intervention. Updating and building upon all prior meta-analyses, this study aimed to determine levels of stability in all forms of attachment classifications across early childhood. Attachment stability was assessed between three developmental epochs within early childhood: infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool/early school. To ensure data homogeneity, only studies that assessed attachment with methods based on the strange situation procedure were included. Results indicate moderate levels of stability at both the four-way (secure, avoidant, resistant, and disorganised; κ = 0.23) and secure/insecure (r = 0.28) levels of assessment. Meta-regression analysis indicated security to be the most stable attachment organisation. This study also found evidence for publication bias, highlighting a preference for the publication of significant findings.


Jessica Opie was supported by the Deakin University Postgraduate Research Scholarship and the Gowrie Scholarship Fund of the Australian National University. Craig Olsson is supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Grant with Fellowship [Grant Number: APP1175086]. Work on this paper by Robbie Duschinsky was supported by a Medical Humanities Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust [Grant Number WT103343MA].


Publication Date



Attachment and Human Development






34 p. (p. 897-930)


Taylor & Francis



Rights Statement

© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.