Thesis Defense Announcement
College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis Defense of
for the Degree of Master of Arts
June 20, 2019 at 12:30 PM Psychology Building- Room 208
Advisor: Kathryn Howell
Differentiating the Effects of Anxious and Avoidant Attachment on Depression & Resilience
ABSTRACT: Seminal work on parental attachment in childhood indicates that insecure attachment styles are a risk factor for psychopathology and may be negatively correlated with adaptive functioning following trauma. Research is less clear regarding what type of insecure attachment (i.e. anxious or avoidant) is associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower resilience, and to which attachment figure these adverse outcomes are linked. The present study examined how anxious and avoidant attachment to multiple figures (i.e. mother, father, best friend, and romantic partner) is associated with depression and resilience among emerging adults while accounting for demographic (e.g. sex, race, and income) and trauma-related (i.e. cumulative trauma, age at the time of the trauma, and type of trauma exposure) variables. Participants included 372 emerging adults, age 18-24 (Mage=19.64, SD=1.62), recruited from a University in the Midsouth. All participants experienced either the loss of a loved one, sexual abuse, physical abuse, or an extreme illness or injury as their most traumatic life event (MTE). Hierarchical linear regression analyses revealed that both anxious and avoidant attachment to a best friend were associated with lower levels of resilience, but only anxious attachment to a best friend was associated with more depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that attachment insecurity to a best friend during emerging adulthood has negative implications for mental health and may limit positive functioning following trauma. Results highlight the importance of cultivating healthy relationships in a university setting to foster secure peer attachments and improve well-being for emerging adults exposed to adversity.