Associations between secure base script knowledge in early childhood and perceived quality of attachment in middle childhood

Carla Fernandes, Marilia Fernandes, Marta Antunes, António J. Santos, Brian Vaughn, Manuela Verissimo


Previous studies suggest that mental representations of attachment can show moderate stability across childhood but none of these considered the child’s use of the Secure Base Script (SBS). This study tested the longitudinal stability of attachment representations from early to middle childhood, providing data that will allow us to determine whether the SBS score behaves like other attachment measures for early childhood in this regard. A sample of 70 Portuguese preschool children (36 girls) was assessed regarding their access to and use of the SBS when producing narratives relevant to attachment themes (e.g., separation, fear of ambiguous threat) at age 5 years using the Attachment Story Completion Task. Follow-up assessments were obtained at 8 and 9 years of age using the Kerns Security Scale. Security scores for both parents were obtained from the child in both years. All cross-time correlations were positive and significant. Subsequent tests on correlation magnitudes for mothers vs. fathers were not significant. Finally, correlations for mother/father security scores were significant at both age levels. Our findings indicate that children’s access to and use of the SBS in early childhood does predict their perceived quality of attachment with parents in middle childhood. Overall, our results indicate that access to and use of SBS in young children’s attachment-relevant narratives is a valid and potentially productive measure.


Secure Base script, Preschool children, Midle childhood.

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