The Relationship Between Adult Attachment Classification and Symptoms of Depression

Purpose The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between adult attachment classification and symptoms of depression. By assessing adult attachment classifications in this study it is proposed it will identify individuals at risk to depressive symptoms and help in gaining a better understanding of the types of treatment interventions that may be most effective given an individual’s attachment style. One hundred undergraduate students will complete two online questionnaires each, with one on adult attachment and one on depression.

Data on age and gender will also be collected. It is hypothesized that participants with a preoccupied or fearful style (negative view of self) will have higher levels of depression symptoms as compared to participants with a Secure or Dismissing style (positive view of self). John Bowlby once proclaimed that attachment relationships were important for humans across the life cycle and that attachment behaviours characterised human interaction “from the cradle to the grave” (Bowlby, 1979).

This theory was developed from his observations of common attachment in infants and Bowlby (1979) proposed that early interactions between an infant and his or her primary caregiver determine an infant’s sense of security, both in terms of feelings of self-worth and expectations about the availability of others. Bowlby (1979) found that children who are securely attached to their caregivers treated them as sources of emotional support to which they turned for comfort in times of distress.

Children with avoidant attachments, in contrast, actively distanced themselves both physically and psychologically when they were upset and did not view their caregivers as sources of support. Children with anxious–ambivalent attachments exhibited approach–avoidance behaviors toward their caregivers when distressed, mixing bids for comfort and support with withdrawal and anger. These patterns of attachment were partly in response to the consistency and quality of affection from their primary care giver. Securely attached children had more supportive care givers than the insecurely attached children whose primary are givers consistently rejected bids for affection and support and emotional independence was encouraged too early. (Bowlby, 1973; Crittenden & Ainsworth, 1989). These care giving experiences affect the degree to which individuals feel optimistic about whether future attachment figures can be counted on for emotional support, particularly in distressing situations. Although these models can be modified by social experiences (e. g. , with close friends or romantic partners), Collins & Allard (2001) found they gradually solidify across development and exert an increasingly strong influence on social perceptions and behavior.

In the past two decades, considerable research has explored Bowlby’s attachment theory (Bartholomew 1990; Griffin & Bartholomew, 1994) with insecure attachment models thought to leave adults vulnerable to emotional distress, particularly depression (Bowlby 1969; 1973;1980). It has been suggested that Attachment Theory (Bowlby 1969; 1973; 1980) provides a framework for an understanding of adult attachment style and its association with depression and depressive vulnerability (Carnelley, Pietromonaco & Jaffe, 1994)

Hazan and Shaver (1987), sought to substantiate this assumption by studying adult attachment style and more recently Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) proposed a four-category attachment model proposed to identify styles of adult attachment. In this model, it is argued that the two dimensions underlying measures of attachment can be conceptualised as model of self (positive vs. negative) and model of others (positive vs. negative). Bartholomew and Horowitz also pointed out that combinations of the two dimensions can yield four major attachment patterns: secure, preoccupied, dismissing and fearful.

Adult attachment styles reflect expectations about whether significant others are emotionally available under stressful circumstances (Hazan & Shaver,1987). Secure adults consider themselves as worthy of the concern, care, and affection of others; perceive significant others as being accessible, reliable, trustworthy, and well intentioned; and tend to have relationships characterised by intimacy and trust. Adults with an avoidant attachment style tend to deny their own emotional needs for attachment and perceive others as untrustworthy, thereby limiting their capacity for developing truly intimate relationships.

Adults with anxious–preoccupied attachment styles have negative working models of themselves and positive models of significant others, such that their relationships are characterized by worry about abandonment, hyper vigilance, and jealousy (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Levy & & Davis, 1988). Bartholomew & Horowitz (1991) developed a Relationships Questionnaire (RQ) which is a self-report instrument is designed to assess adult attachment within Bartholomew’s (1990) four-category framework. Styles A and B correspond to the secure and fearful-avoidant attachment patterns, respectively.

Styles C and D correspond to the preoccupied and dismissing-avoidant attachment patterns respectively. Both the fearful and preoccupied adult attachment styles have been found to be associated with depression (Carnelley et al. , 1994). The core purpose of study is to look into the relationship between adult attachment classification and the symptoms of depression in an adult population, Method Participants The proposed study will recruit 100 first year to four year undergraduate students from Monash University. Materials Online access to participants to complete to the following self administered questionnaires. Adult Attachment Style.

The Relationship Questionnaire (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991) an adaptation of the attachment measure developed by Hazan and Shaver (1987) and is made up of four short paragraphs, describing each attachment style. Each participant will be asked to make ratings on a 7- point scale of the degree to which they resemble each of the four styles. Eg. A participant might rate him or herself Secure 6, Fearful 2, Preoccupied 1, Dismissing 4. These ratings (or “scores”) provide a profile of an individual’s attachment feelings and behaviour. The highest of the four attachment ratings will be used to classify participants into an attachment category.

If when two or more attachment are rated equally high participants will be asked to choose a single, best fitting attachment pattern. Depression. Beck Depression Inventory (Beck, 1967) which is a self-administered 21 item self-report scale measuring manifestations of depression. Individual questions of the BDI assess mood, pessimism, sense of failure, self-dissatisfaction, guilt, punishment, self-dislike, self-accusation, suicidal ideas, crying, irritability, social withdrawal, body image, work difficulties, insomnia, fatigue, appetite, weight loss, bodily preoccupation, and loss of libido.

Items 1 to 13 assess symptoms that are psychological in nature, while items 14 to 21 assess more physical symptoms. The sum of all BDI item scores indicates the severity of depression. The test is scored differently for the general population with a score of 21 or over representing depression. The Beck Depression Inventory can distinguish between different subtypes of depressive disorders, such as major depression and dysthymia (a less severe form of depression). Proposed procedure

All participants will be asked to complete online self administered questionnaires the the Relationship Questionnaire (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991) and the Depression Inventory (Beck, 1967) which will be scored according to published instructions as well as providing details of age and gender. Design and Analysis The percentage distribution of each attachment style will be examined comparing means and standard deviations on the outcome variables for the 4 attachment styles. Independent-group analysis of the various will be performed to assess the main effects and interaction effects for each of the variables.

It is predicted that depression symptoms are to one’s image of the self and participants with a negative image of the self, the Preoccupied and Fearful, will rate themselves higher on depression and lower on self-esteem than those with a positive image of self, the Secure and Dismissing. A one way ANOVA will be used to test and analysis this variance. Significance of the research or results and implications Limitations to this study include the reliance on self-report measures of attachment and depression severity, the small number of male participants in the clinical sample, and the use of a cross-sectional rather than longitudinal design.

Potential benefits of this study is that by assessing adult attachment classification it could identify individuals at risk to depressive symptoms and help in gaining a better understanding of the types of treatment interventions that may be most effective given an individual’s attachment style. This increased knowledge will not only help to gain insight in the relationship but also benefit the wider community. References Bartholomew, K. (1990). Avoidance of intimacy: An attachment perspective. Journal of social and Personal Relationships 7, 147-178. Bartholomew, K. , & Horowitz, L.

M. (1991). Attachment styles among young adults: A test of a four-category model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 226-244. Beck, A. T. , Ward, C. H. , Mendelson, M. , Mock, J. , & Erbaugh, J. (1961) An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry 4, 561-571. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. New York: Basic Books. Bowlby, J. ( 1973 ). Attachment and loss: Vol. 2. Separation: Anxiety and anger. New York: Basic Books. Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and loss: Vol. 3. Loss, sadness, and depression. New York: Basic Books.

Carnelley, K. B. , Pietromonaco, P. R. , & Jaffe, K. (1994). Depression, working models of others, and relationship functioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 127-140. Collins, N. L. , & Allard, L. M. (2001). Cognitive representations of attachment: The content and function of working models. In G. J. O. Fletcher & M. S. Clark (Eds. ), Blackwell handbook of social psychology: Interpersonal processes (pp. 60–85). Malden, MA: Blackwell. Crittenden, P. M. , & Ainsworth, M. (1989). Child maltreatment and attachment theory. In D. Cicchetti & V. Carlson (Eds. , Clinical maltreatment: Theory and research on the causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect (pp. 432–463). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Griffin, D. W. , & Bartholomew, K. (1994). Models of the self and other: Attachment, Parenthood and Depressive Symptoms 1185 Fundamental dimensions underlying measures of adult attachment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 430–445. Hazan, C. , & Shaver, P. R. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 511-524. Levy, M. B. , & Davis, K. E. (1988). Love styles and attachment styles