Adult Attachment in the Cycle of Violence

  1. Juvenile Justice
  2. Victimization
  3. Violent Crime

Key Findings

  • Family violence victimization and adult violence are not rare.
  • More than one-third of the respondents reported engaging in violent behavior in the past year.
  • Instances of parent-to-child violence and sibling violence victimization were strongly associated with adult violent behavior.


In the article, “Adult Attachment as a Criminological Construct in the Cycle of Violence,” Marganski investigates whether attachment plays a role in the link between family violence victimization experiences in childhood and adult violent behavior using data collected from undergraduate students. Results of the study revealed significant associations between direct experiences of victimization and violent behavior. The author concludes that social learning theory (new behaviors can be acquired by observing and imitating others) may be useful in explaining violence among those who have experienced high victimization, while social control theory (people’s relationships, values, norms, and beliefs influence whether or not they choose to break the law) may be useful in explaining adult violence for those who have experienced low or no levels of violence early in life.

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