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Attachment & violent offending: A meta-analysis

Claire A. Hamill, Emily Newman, Lynda Todd, David Peck
Aggression and Violent Behavior; Volume 19, Issue 4, July–August 2014, Pages 322–339.

Attachment theory provides a useful framework for understanding violence as it acknowledges the importance of both interpersonal and developmental factors. The literature suggests that attachment is associated with violence, but the research evidence is equivocal as to whether insecure attachment was a risk factor for criminality, psychopathology more generally, or both. The current study therefore conducted a systematic review of the literature using meta-analytic methods. Results indicated that insecure attachment was strongly associated with all types of criminality (i.e. sexual offending, violent offending, non-violent offending, and domestic violence) even in the absence of psychopathology. Further sub-group analyses indicated differences in attachment patterns between sexual offenders and violent offenders, for example. The implications of the findings are discussed and suggestions for further research are made.



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