Dismissing children's perceptions of their emotional experience and parental care: Preliminary evidence of positive bias

Academic Article


  • The tendency to perceive caregivers in highly positive terms and to perceive the self as strong and problem-free are two facets of the positive bias characteristic of a dismissing attachment classification in adulthood. However, this link has not yet been examined in children. We evaluated the association between dismissing attachment and positive bias in school-aged children's reports of their own emotional experience and their parental care, hypothesizing that: (1) compared to secure children, dismissing children would underreport their subjective distress relative to physiological indicators of distress, and (2) dismissing children would report that their parents were warmer/more caring than would secure children. Ninety-seven children between the ages of 8 and 12 completed the Child Attachment Interview, reports of maternal and paternal care, and a psychophysiological threat paradigm. Compared to secure children, dismissing children reported less distress than their startle responses during threat would suggest. In other words, dismissing children showed a greater divergence between subjective and physiological emotional response. Dismissing children rated their parents as warmer and more caring as compared to secure children's ratings. Results provide support for the association between dismissing attachment and inflated positivity on child-report measures of parental care and emotional experience. Implications of the study's findings for attachment theory are discussed. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Borelli JL; David DH; Crowley MJ; Snavely JE; Mayes LC
  • Start Page

  • 70
  • End Page

  • 88
  • Volume

  • 44
  • Issue

  • 1