Attachment Security and Caregiving Scripts: Links to Prosocial Comforting

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Prosocial behavior is a key marker of healthy social development in children. Studies consistently find that attachment security is an important predictor of children’s prosocial behavior. Studies investigating mechanisms that explain this relation are not necessary for understanding prosocial development. The goal of this study was to investigate a proposed mechanism, caregiving scripts, that might explain the relation between attachment security and prosocial comforting. A community sample of four-year old children (n = 88) completed a series of lab tasks assessing their attachment security, caregiving script knowledge, and response to an experimenter’s distress. Results reveal that attachment security predicted children’s comforting behavior and caregiving script knowledge. However, contrary to hypotheses, caregiving scripts did not mediate the relation between attachment security and prosocial comforting These findings are partially consistent with previous results and suggest that further study is necessary to understand the function of the caregiving script.