Early Life Trauma Exposure, Adolescent Attachment Styles, and Young Adult Behavioral Outcomes Restricted; Files Only

Jackson, Jodie (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/1z40kt82r?locale=en
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Abstract

The prevalence of childhood trauma is high, and traumatic experiences have wide ranging negative implications for later mental and physical health. As such, there is clinical utility in investigating the buffers against the development of subsequent symptomatology in trauma exposed individuals. One potential buffer suggested by previous literature is a secure attachment style. The present study examined the relationships between attachment style in adolescence, trauma exposure, gender, and the presence of internalizing and externalizing behaviors in young adulthood in a sample of 707 (365 female) participants. The Traumatic Life Events Inventory was used to quantify amount of trauma. Attachment style was measured during adolescence with a four item likert Bartholomew Attachment Scale. Categories for attachment style included secure and insecure. The insecure classification was further broken into three styles: fearful-avoidant, dismissive-avoidant, and preoccupied attachment styles. Internalizing and externalizing behaviors in young adulthood were measured by using responses from the participant, the mother of the participant, and a peer of the participant on the Young Adult Behavioral Checklist. Structural Equation Modeling in AMOS 25 was used to construct the latent variable of either internalizing or externalizing behaviors and to test main effects and moderating influences of attachment. As hypothesized, a secure attachment style served as a buffer against internalizing symptoms after trauma. However, it did not have the same protective effect for externalizing symptoms. No interactions were noted between trauma and subtypes of insecure attachment styles, and contrary to prediction, gender did not serve as a moderator in the relationship between attachment style and trauma to predict adult behavioral outcomes. Implications and future directions are discussed. 

Table of Contents

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………......1

           Protective Mechanisms..…………………………………………………………………..1

Attachment.…………………………………………………………………………....…..2

           Secure Attachment Style…………………………………………………………………..4

           Preoccupied Attachment Style…………………………………………………………….5

           Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment Style…………………………………………………...6

           Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Style……………………………………………………….7

           Sex Differences in Attachment Styles…………………………………………………….8

           Stress and Attachment……………………………………………………………………..9

Hypothesis………………………………………………………………………………..11

Method.…………………………………………………………………………………………..12

Participants……………………………………………………………………………….12

Measures…………………………………………………………………………………13

Procedure………………………………………………………………………………...14

           Data Analysis Plan……………………………………………………………………….15

Results……………………………………………………………………………………………15

Discussion………………………………………………………………………………………..17

Clinical Implications……………………………………………………………………..19

Strengths and Weaknesses……………………………………………………………….20

           Future Directions………………………………………………………………………...21

References………………………………………………………………………………………..23

Tables and Figures……………………………………………………………………………….28

    

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