Attachment Style and Empathy in Late children, Adolescents, and Adults: Meta-analytic Review


secure attachment
insecure attachment
meta-analytic review

How to Cite

De Sanctis, F., & Mesurado, B. (2022). Attachment Style and Empathy in Late children, Adolescents, and Adults: Meta-analytic Review. International Journal of Psychological Research, 15(2).


Attachment has a fundamental role in the development of empathy, which helps people interact with others and prevents aggressive behaviors. It is believed that having a secure attachment can promote empathy. However, there is no clear evidence about the relationship between insecure attachment styles and empathy. Therefore, a meta-analysis was performed to clarify the relation between different types of attachment and empathy from late children to adults (9-47 years). It was conducted using 14 studies (11542 participants) for the secure attachment, 7 studies (3115 participants) for the avoidant, and 8 studies (3479 participants) for the anxious-ambivalent.

Results indicated that secure attachment was positively correlated with empathy, avoidant attachment was negatively correlated, and anxious-ambivalent attachment had an inconclusive relationship. Whereas the results obtained for the secure and avoidant attachment with empathy are consistent with literature, the inconsistencies in anxious-ambivalent style may be due to a duality of feelings experienced by these individuals, who go from high levels of empathy (to be accepted) to low levels of empathy (to avoid distressing emotions).

We suggest broadening the limit in age, include the multidirectional nature of empathy, as well as the effect of gender and different sorts of affiliations (parents, couples) for future studies.


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