Infant Attachment Security and the Timing of Puberty: Testing an Evolutionary Hypothesis
Belsky, J., Houts, R. M. and Fearon, R. M. P. (2010) Infant Attachment Security and the Timing of Puberty: Testing an Evolutionary Hypothesis. Psychological Science, 21 (9). pp. 1195-1201. ISSN 0956-7976
To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/0956797610379867
Life-history theories of the early programming of human reproductive strategy stipulate that early rearing experience, including that reflected in infant-parent attachment security, regulates psychological, behavioral, and reproductive development. We tested the hypothesis that infant attachment insecurity, compared with infant attachment security, at the age of 15 months predicts earlier pubertal maturation. Focusing on 373 White females enrolled in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, we gathered data from annual physical exams from the ages of 9½ years to 15½ years and from self-reported age of menarche. Results revealed that individuals who had been insecure infants initiated and completed pubertal development earlier and had an earlier age of menarche compared with individuals who had been secure infants, even after accounting for age of menarche in the infants’ mothers. These results support a conditional-adaptational view of individual differences in attachment security and raise questions about the biological mechanisms responsible for the attachment effects we discerned.