Preoccupied and Dismissing Attachment Representations Are Differentially Associated With Anxiety in Adolescence and Adulthood: A Meta-Analysis

Or Dagan, Christopher R. Facompré, Marissa D. Nivison, Glenn I. Roisman, Kristin Bernard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The claim that insecure attachment predisposes individuals to anxiety was put forth by attachment theorists more than 45 years ago, yet evidence of this association has produced mixed results. By conducting a series of meta-analyses (k = 53, N = 4,970), we found that individuals with secure and insecure attachment representations did not differ in their reported anxiety symptoms. However, individuals with preoccupied (d = 0.35) but not dismissing attachment representations (d = −0.02) endorsed significantly more anxiety symptoms than secure individuals. Individuals with preoccupied attachment representations also endorsed greater anxiety symptoms than people with dismissing attachment representations (d = 0.31), and this difference was stronger when assessed in high-risk samples than low-risk samples. Unresolved individuals were more anxious than nonunresolved individuals (d = 0.29), but exploratory analysis suggested that secondary preoccupied attachment subtype drove this effect. Results highlight the relevance of attachment representations for prevention and intervention efforts targeting anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-640
Number of pages27
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the authors whose data were included in this meta-analytic review.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • attachment
  • meta-analysis

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