Narratives of Loss as they Relate to Adult Attachment Style and Well-Being Open Access

Adler, Nancy (2010)

Permanent URL:


Narratives of Loss as they Relate to Adult Attachment Style and Well-Being
By Nancy Adler

The loss of a loved one is a difficult trauma that affects many people. Although much past research has examined individual differences in methods of coping with loss as they relate to well-being, little research has focused on how individuals come to interpret the loss of a loved one, and how their interpretation relates to their psychological well-being. The way that individuals deal with the loss of a loved one is likely related to their styles of attachment. In the present study, I looked at narratives of bereavement, as such narratives are linked to the way that individuals create meaning of past experiences. I sought to examine how narratives of loss might be related to attachment style in addition to well-being. Narratives were coded for contamination, emotion words, and cognitive words. Individuals filled out measures of attachment, depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms. The results revealed that individuals high in attachment anxiety were more likely to show higher levels of depression and general anxiety. The results also indicated that, for the most part, narrative variables were not related to attachment style, although individuals high in attachment avoidance were less likely to use positive emotion words in narratives. Despite the general lack of significant correlations between narrative variables and well-being measures, I found that more contaminated narratives were related to increased symptoms of PTSD. These results, and the general absence of significant correlations, indicate that further research would be useful to better understand how attachment style and well-being relate to bereavement narrative disclosure.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Relationship Between Loss and Attachment...5
Why Narratives?...8
Narratives of Trauma...8
The Importance of Trauma Narratives: Their Relationship to Well-Being...11
Contamination and Redemption...15
Current Literature on Loss...16


Coding of Narratives and Reliability...22


Descriptive Statistics...23
Attachment and Well-Being...24
Narratives and Attachment...25
Narratives and Well-Being...25


Narrative Examples...28
Limitations and Directions for Future Research...32


About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files