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The Role of Attachment and Maladaptive Emotion Regulation Strategies in the Development of Bulimic Symptoms in Adolescents

Abstract

Following the theoretical propositions of the Emotion Regulation model of attachment, the current study investigated whether attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance might play a differential contributing role in the development of bulimic symptoms, through assumed differences in adopting specific maladaptive emotion regulation strategies in a sample of adolescents. Developmentally appropriate self-report questionnaires were administered to a community sample of 397 adolescents (Mean age: 14.02; 62.7% female) and this at 2 time points with a 1-year time lag. Results provided longitudinal evidence for the Emotion Regulation model of attachment in confirming the differential contributing role of the attachment dimensions on the development of bulimic symptoms in a sample of adolescents. More specifically, attachment anxiety seemed to be related to bulimic symptoms through rumination, while attachment avoidance through emotional control. These results may have clinical implications for assessment and treatment of bulimic symptoms in adolescents.

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Correspondence to Lien Goossens.

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This study was funded by the Special Research Funds of Ghent University (grant number B/11527).

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Kim Van Durme, Lien Goossens and Guy Bosmans declare that they have no conflict of interest. Caroline Braet translated the FEEL-KJ to a validated Dutch version and received royalties for this.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Van Durme, K., Goossens, L., Bosmans, G. et al. The Role of Attachment and Maladaptive Emotion Regulation Strategies in the Development of Bulimic Symptoms in Adolescents. J Abnorm Child Psychol 46, 881–893 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-017-0334-1

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Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Bulimic symptoms
  • Adolescents
  • Emotion regulation