Program for Emotion regulation and Attachment Research in Leiden (PEARL)

In this research programme we examine the role of parents and other caregivers in children's development of attachment and emotion regulation, and we study the limits of their influence.

Programme leader:
Prof. Marinus van IJzendoorn

In the era of the genome and the brain the influence of parenting on child development is not self-evident anymore. In this research programme we examine the role of parents and other caregivers in children's development of attachment and emotion regulation, and we study the limits of their influence. How crucial are parents and other caregivers in shaping their children’s development, not only in relatively regular settings and circumstances but also in extreme situations of family violence, institutional neglect or social upheaval? What influence do children in their turn have on their parents and caregivers, and in what ways do they trigger specific parental interactions, and help build a relationship?


How parents, caregivers and children interact and influence each other may be dependent on context (e.g., family versus group care), culture, history and socioeconomic status, and on biological make-up (e.g., gender, genotype). The study of parent/caregiver – child interactions and relationships should therefore cover the whole range of potentially important factors, from DNA, hormones and neurophysiological functioning to interactive behaviour, relationships and cognitive representations. Only interdisciplinary research focusing on these various interrelated levels of human functioning can provide the foundation for the development and evaluation of effective interventions aimed at empowering parents and stimulating child development. Within this research programme a parenting intervention aimed at enhancing parental sensitivity and parent-child interactions has been developed: the Video-feedback Intervention to promote 'Positive Parenting and Sensitive Discipline'(VIPP-SD). This intervention has proven to be effective in a series of randomized controlled trials and has been adapted to suit different groups and settings.

PEARL cooperates with various research teams (for example, Generation R; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network; Minnesota Longitudinal Study). The research programme is grounded in studies on the historical roots of the phenomena under investigation (e.g., attachment, adoption), and makes extensive use of standardized observational methods and advanced statistical applications. It includes five substantive clusters headed by senior researchers from the Centre for Child and Family Studies.

Research clusters

Last Modified: 05-04-2016