Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Bonnie Nicholson

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Melanie Leuty

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Eric Dahlen

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 School



Attachment quality throughout the lifespan has been found to be impacted by a variety of factors including prior attachments with parents and other adults (Rholes, Simpson, & Friedman, 2006). The mechanisms that impact the transmission of attachment to parent-child attachment quality has not been fully explored. Individual differences such as traits involving appraisal of self and others and affective components have been found to be important in relationship functioning across contexts (Eisenberg, 2000). Thus, the current study evaluated the relationship between adult attachment quality and parent-child attachment quality and specifically examined the mediating effects of cognitive-affective traits (i.e. trait forgiveness, trait gratitude, guilt and shame proneness) on this relationship. The current study also evaluated the differences between mothers and fathers. Participants consisted of 424 parents (55.4% mothers and 44.6% fathers) of children ages 6-18 years old, within the continental United States. Participants self-reported their demographic characteristics, attachment quality with adults in their lives, attachment quality with their children, and their trait gratitude, forgiveness, and proneness to experience guilt and shame. Results demonstrated adult attachment predicted parent-child attachment quality and was partially mediated by trait gratitude, reparative action tendency, and withdraw action tendency (both indicators of guilt and shame proneness). Results suggested the potential for continuity of attachment quality in the parent-child attachment dyad is partially explained by these cognitive-affective traits. Results also found there were no meaningful differences between fathers and mothers suggesting these mechanisms operate similarly despite prior research supporting differences between mothers and fathers. Implications, limitations, and direction for future research were discussed.