Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 343–358

Do Early Maladaptive Schemas Mediate the Relationship Between Childhood Experiences and Avoidant Personality Disorder Features? A Preliminary Investigation in a Non-Clinical Sample

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10608-009-9250-1

Cite this article as:
Carr, S.N. & Francis, A.J.P. Cogn Ther Res (2010) 34: 343. doi:10.1007/s10608-009-9250-1


The current study tested the hypothesis that early maladaptive schemas (EMSs) mediate the relationship between retrospectively reported childhood experiences and avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) symptoms. One hundred and seventy-eight non-clinical participants completed questionnaires measuring retrospectively reported childhood experiences, a measure of EMSs, and AVPD symptoms. Path analyses showed that the EMSs of subjugation, abandonment, and emotional inhibition fully mediated the relationship between retrospectively reported childhood experiences (specifically mother overprotection & family sociability) and AVPD symptoms. The abandonment and subjugation EMSs were found to fully mediate the relationship between family sociability and AVPD symptoms while the subjugation and emotional inhibition EMSs fully mediated the relationship between mother (but not father) overprotection and AVPD symptoms. Finally, retrospective reports of childhood maltreatment were found to be associated with all EMSs within the disconnection/rejection domain apart from the abandonment EMS although these EMSs did not significantly account for AVPD symptoms. These results are consistent with cognitive-behavioural formulations of personality disorders and this study is the first to show that EMSs mediate the relationship between childhood factors and AVPD features.


Avoidant personality disorder Early maladaptive schemas Schema therapy Childhood maltreatment Personality disorder Cognitive-behavioural therapy Family environment 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Psychology, School of Health SciencesRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Primary Mental Health ServicesMildura Base HospitalMilduraAustralia

Personalised recommendations