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Psychological functioning in young adulthood : the role of attachment, coping and stress


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Brown, Lorraine Jean 2006 , 'Psychological functioning in young adulthood : the role of attachment, coping and stress', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The impact of negative life stress and coping on psychological functioning
has been established by previous research. However, it is only more recently that
attachment theory has been examined for both theoretical and clinical contributions
to the field. Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) combined the positive and negative
model of self with the positive and negative model of others to form a four-group
model of adult attachment. The establishment of links between those with a negative
self model (i.e., high anxiety) and internalising psychopathology, and those with a
negative model of others (i.e., high avoidance) and externalising psychopathology,
would provide further support for this four-group model.
In this thesis, an original model is developed to examine the direct and
moderated influence of attachment, coping and negative life stress on adaptive
functioning, anger and psychopathology. Questionnaires were administered to 204
young adults (aged 18 -30 years) to assess their romantic attachment style, methods
of coping, levels of negative life stress in the past 12 months and the impact of these
independent variables on self-reported levels of adaptive functioning, anger and
psychopathology. Adaptive functioning refers to relationships with friends, romantic
partners and family, as well as academic and occupational functioning. The
psychopathology measure included assessment of internalising and externalising
symptoms, self harm, suicidality, alcohol and drug use, among other psychological
The relationship between the independent and dependent variables was
analysed by hierarchical multiple regressions. A negative model of self (high
anxiety) was linked with an increased incidence of internalising disorders, however a negative model of others (high avoidance) was not associated with externalising
disorders, but with internalising disorders and to some areas of adaptive functioning.
These results provide a further extension of Bartholomew's model, and with the
additional psychopathology scales measured, highlight the negative model of self
(high anxiety) as most relevant in the development of psychopathology and anger.
Support was also found for the hypothesised model, with attachment linked to coping
largely in accordance to predictions. The psychopathology results revealed the
largely direct effect of negative life stress on psychopathology. The anger results
provided support for both a main effects and moderator model, with negative life
stress impacting on anger levels directly, and through an interaction with coping.
These results represent a significant contribution to the theory and clinical practice,
with implications for both future research and clinical intervention.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Brown, Lorraine Jean
Keywords: Young adults, Developmental psychology, Attachment behavior
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2006 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

No access or viewing until 1 January 2009. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2006. Includes bibliographical references

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