Attachment styles and aggression in physically abused and neglected children

Ricky Finzi*, Anca Ram, Dov Har-Even, Dan Shnit, Abraham Weizman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Attachment theory provides a valuable conceptual model for understanding the role of the parent-child relationship and its consequences for the child's emerging self-concept and view of the social world. Attachment style is an individual-difference variable that is rooted in the child's early rearing experience and provides the context for later emotional, behavioral, and cognitive transactions with the environment. The aim of this study was to compare physically abused (n = 41), and neglected children (n = 38) with nonabused/nonneglected children (n = 35) aged 6-12 years, in terms of their attachment styles and their levels of aggression. We found that the physically abused children were significantly characterized by the avoidant attachment style and manifested significantly higher levels of aggression, and the neglected children were significantly characterized with the anxious/ambivalent attachment style. The strategies that the physically abused and neglected children adapted for interactions with their parents also marked their relationships outside the family. Thus, physically abused children are at risk of antisocial behavior and sustained suspicion toward the others, and neglected children are at risk of social withdrawal, and social rejection and feelings of incompetence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-786
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2001


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