Some studies have demonstrated the link between the recall of early affiliative experiences and psychopathological symptoms in adolescence. However, literature seems to be scarce in relation to the association between these early memories and adolescent well-being, as well as in relation to the processes and mechanisms that may mediate this relationship. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to explore the association between early affiliative memories and psychological well-being, and whether this relationship is mediated by the self-conscious emotion of shame and by self-critical attitudes. Furthermore, differences in sex were explored. In this cross-sectional study, 310 adolescents from Portuguese schools (136 boys and 174 girls), aged between 13 and 17, completed self-report measures. Path analysis results suggested that, when controlling the effect of age, the recall of early affiliative experiences with family figures had a direct impact on adolescent psychological well-being, and an indirect effect mediated by increased levels of external shame and self-critical attitudes. This model revealed a good fit between the hypothesized mediational model and the data, explaining 43% of the variance of adolescent psychological well-being. These findings highlight the relevance of assessing and working with maladaptive emotion regulation processes and mechanisms, especially in adolescents with a scarce recall of early affiliative experiences with close figures and, additionally, emphasize the importance of the development of prevention and intervention programs focused on compassion and acceptance approaches for adolescents.
The association between early affiliative memories and psychological well-being was tested.
Feelings of shame and self-critical attitudes mediate this link.
This integrative path model explained 43% of psychological well-being.
The study was conducted in adolescents of both sexes.
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Research by Ana Laura Mendes is supported by a Ph.D. Grant (SFRH/BD/119286/2016) sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Human Capital Operational Programme (POCH) and the European Union (UE).
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Mendes, A.L., Canavarro, M.C. & Ferreira, C. Early emotional memories and well-being in adolescence: The roles of shame and self-critical attitudes. J Child Fam Stud 31, 1328–1337 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-02109-9