The relationship between attachment styles and internalizing/externalizing problems: The mediating role of self-criticism

  • S. De SantisEmail author
  • G. Falgares
  • D. C. Kopala-Sibley


Many recent studies have explored the potential links between attachment style dimensions, personality vulnerability factors for psychopathology, and psychological and behavioral problems, particularly those along the internalizing and externalizing spectrum. However, previous studies have not examined these links within a structural equation model that can examine multiple predictors and outcomes, and therefore have not fully investigated the specificity of links between these factors. This cross-sectional study examined the mediating role of self-criticism in the relationship between attachment style dimensions and internalizing and externalizing problems. The sample included 420 nonclinical adolescents aged 14–20 years who were recruited in school settings and completed self-reported measures of attachment style dimensions (Attachment Style Questionnaire), self-criticism (Depressive Experiences Questionnaire), and internalizing and externalizing problems (Youth Self-Report). Structural equation modeling was used to test the proposed mediation model and to ascertain direct and indirect effects among study variables. Results shown that self-criticism mediated the link between both attachment avoidance and anxiety, and internalizing problems. Results were not moderated by gender. Results suggest that self-criticism is associated with psychopathology during adolescence, and accounts for the associations of attachment style dimensions with internalizing and externalizing problems.


Adolescence Attachment style Personality vulnerability Psychopathology 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

None to declare by any author.

Financial Disclosure

None to declare by any author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. De Santis
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. Falgares
    • 2
  • D. C. Kopala-Sibley
    • 3
  1. 1.Azienda Provinciale per i Servizi SanitariTrentoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Psychological, Pedagogical and Educational SciencesUniversity of PalermoPalermoItaly
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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