Faculty Articles

Title

Mother-Child Attachment and Gender Identity in Preadolescence

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2013

Publication Title

Sex Roles

Volume

69

Issue/Number

11

First Page

618

ISSN

0360-0025

Last Page

631

Abstract/Excerpt

We investigated the relations of two dimensions of attachment insecurity (avoidant with mother, preoccupied with mother) to three dimensions of gender identity (gender typicality, gender contentedness, felt pressure for gender differentiation) in preadolescent children. We hypothesized that attachment insecurity (of either sort) fosters felt pressure for gender differentiation but impedes the development of felt gender typicality and gender contentedness. Participants were 863 Black, Hispanic, and White fifth graders attending public schools in the southeast United States (443 girls, 420 boys; M age = 11.1 years). Each attachment measure was associated with each gender identity measure in the expected way, but some associations hinged on child gender or ethnicity/race. Avoidant attachment was negatively associated with felt gender typicality only for White children, negatively associated with gender contentedness for the entire sample, and positively associated with felt pressure for gender differentiation only for White children. Preoccupied attachment was negatively associated with felt gender typicality for the entire sample, negatively associated with gender contentedness only for boys, and positively associated with felt pressure for gender differentiation only for girls.

DOI

10.1007/s11199-013-0310-3

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