A Prediction Model for Separation Anxiety: The Role of Attachment Styles and Internalizing Symptoms in Italian Young Adults

Abstract

Following recent literature, which stresses the importance of broadening the conceptualization of mental functioning in youth, this paper investigated the relations between indicators of attachment styles, internalizing symptoms, and separation anxiety in 379 non-referred Italian university students, as captured by the relationship questionnaire, the experiences in close relationships-revised, the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI), and the adult separation anxiety-27. Psychometric properties of all measures were scrutinized and a confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to support the soundness of a one-factor model representing indicators of all PAI internalizing symptoms: Anxiety, Anxiety-related disorders, Depression, Somatization, and Suicidal ideation. Then, a multivariate analysis was performed in order to test a model of relation linking attachment styles, internalizing symptoms, and separation anxiety scores. Results supported the mediation role of Internalizing symptoms in the association between preoccupied attachment and separation anxiety scores. Preoccupied attachment towards the romantic partner, as compared to attachment towards family and friends, played a more relevant role in predicting internalizing symptoms and separation anxiety scores. Findings corroborate the combined use of the over-mentioned indicators as a screening battery for the dimensional assessment of the interplay among these variables in young adults. Implications and limitations of the study are presented and discussed.

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Mabilia, D., Di Riso, D., Lis, A. et al. A Prediction Model for Separation Anxiety: The Role of Attachment Styles and Internalizing Symptoms in Italian Young Adults. J Adult Dev 26, 286–294 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-019-09327-y

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Keywords

  • Young adulthood
  • Internalizing symptoms
  • Attachment style
  • Separation anxiety
  • Personality Assessment Inventory