Adolescent Attachment: A Social Relations Perspective on Family Relations

Jan De Meulenaere, Lara Stas, Inge Antrop, Ann Buysse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


While attachment at an early age is almost exclusively determined by parental behavior, variation in the quality of attachment in adolescence seems strong to be influenced by the complex interplay between the adolescent’s internal working model and its environment. To unravel the different sources of variance in adolescent attachment relationships we applied the Social Relations Model. Two parents and two adolescents from 70 relatively well-functioning families reported on their attachment relationships within a family context. In this study, attachment was conceptualized by two different dimensions of attachment, namely anxiety (for being abandoned) and avoidance (of intimacy). Our findings suggest adolescents experience little attachment anxiety throughout adolescence, but they report significantly more attachment avoidance toward their parents. The variance in the quality of adolescents’ attachment relationships was mainly determined by characteristics of the adolescent and the unique adjustments they make to the attachment figure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalFamily Process
Issue numberx
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2021


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