Maternal secure base scripts, children's attachment security, and mother - Child narrative styles

Kelly K. Bost, Nana Shin, Brent A. Mcbride, Geoffrey L. Brown, Brian E. Vaughn, Gabrielle Coppola, Manuela Veríssimo, Ligia Monteiro, Byran Korth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


This paper reports the results of a study examining links between maternal representations of attachment, child attachment security, and mother and child narrative styles assessed in the context of reminiscences about shared experiences. Participants were 90 mother - child dyads. Child attachment security was assessed using the attachment Q-set and maternal attachment representations were measured using a recently designed instrument that assesses the script-like qualities of those representations. Analyses examined dependencies in the mother - child memory talk data and then assessed the overlap between both mother and child reminiscing styles and the attachment variables. Narrative styles of both the mothers and their children were coherent and consistent for each dyad member. Furthermore, maternal narrative style (e.g., specific and elaborative questions, using confirming evaluation comments) was significantly related to child participation in the narrative. Maternal and child attachment variables were positively and significantly correlated, and child security was positively associated with maternal narrative style. Maternal secure base scripts were also found to be significantly related to the number of references to emotions in both mother and child narratives as well as to children's overall participation in the memory talk. The pattern of results suggests that attachment representations serve as one influence on the manner(s) in which mother - child dyads think about and discuss emotion-laden content relevant to the child's personal autobiography. Furthermore, the results are consistent with the notion that the manner in which children organize their thoughts about emotion are (at least potentially) shaped by the narrative styles of their parents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-260
Number of pages20
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported here has been supported by NSF grants BCS01-26163 and BCS01-26427.


  • Attachment security
  • Narratives
  • Preschool
  • Reminiscing
  • Secure-base scripts


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