Parents’ Empathy and Child Attachment Security: A Brief Review

E.J.E. Heynen, W. Simon, Peer van der Helm, Geert Jan Stams, Mark Assink

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The present review examined the association between parents’ empathy and the quality of child-parent attachment relationships. A systematic search yielded five published empirical studies, including nine effect sizes. A three-level meta-analysis yielded a significant, moderate, and positive association of r =. 27 between empathy of the parent and children’s attachment security. It was concluded that parental empathy is significantly related to child attachment security. The magnitude of the effect size is comparable to the effect sizes found in meta-analyses on the relation between parental sensitivity, parental mentalisation, and child attachment security. Future studies should investigate the relation between parents’ (cognitive and affective) empathy, their internal working models of attachment, and their child’s attachment security.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmpathy versus Offending, Aggression and Bullying
Subtitle of host publicationAdvancing Knowledge using the Basic Empathy Scale
EditorsDarrick Jolliffe, David P. Farrington
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000366662
ISBN (Print)9780367253745
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2021


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