Attachment Mediates Effects of Trait Mindfulness on Stress Responses to Conflict
- 1k Downloads
While the regulation of stress is usually thought of as an intrapersonal process, research suggests that relational factors such as attachment anxiety and avoidance play an influential role in stress regulation. Mindfulness, the process of intentionally paying attention to present moment experiences in a nonjudgmental way, has been associated with both enhanced romantic attachment security and stress regulation, though the precise role of attachment in mindfulness–stress paths remains unclear. The current study explores (1) the association between mindfulness and romantic partners’ physiological and subjective stress responses to a relationship conflict discussion and (2) the role of attachment anxiety and avoidance in statistically mediating that association. Heterosexual couples (n = 114 dyads) completed self-report measures of mindfulness and attachment approximately 1 week prior to a lab session involving a conflict discussion task. Participants rated state positive and negative affect and stress appraisals following the discussion, and five saliva samples were collected for cortisol assay to measure physiological stress. Results supported the proposed mediational model, with significant indirect effects of total mindfulness scores on stress outcomes through attachment. Specifically, mindfulness is related to lower cortisol levels during the conflict discussion via lower attachment avoidance and predicted less negative affect and more positive cognitive appraisals following the conflict discussion via lower attachment anxiety.
KeywordsMindfulness Attachment Couples Conflict HPA Cortisol
Support for this research was provided by a Basic Research Grant from the University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences and by a Faculty Grant-in-Aid from the University of Wyoming.
- Brennan, K., Clark, C., & Shaver, P. (1998). Self-report measurement of adult attachment: an integrative overview. In J. Simpson & W. Rholes (Eds.), Attachment theory and close relationships (pp. 46–75). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Helgeson, V. (1991). The effects of masculinity and social support on recovery from myocardial infarction. Psychosomatic Medicine, 53, 621–633. Retrieved from http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/content/53/6/621.full.pdf±html.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York: Dell.Google Scholar
- Laurent, H. K., Laurent, S. M., Hertz, R. M., Egan-Wright, D., & Granger, D. A. (2013). Sex-specific effects of mindfulness on romantic partners’ cortisol responses to conflict and relations with psychological adjustment. Psychoneuroendocrinology. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.07.018.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Powers, S. I., Pietromonaco, P. R., Gunlicks, M., & Sayer, A. (2006). Dating couples’ attachment styles and patterns of cortisol reactivity and recovery in response to a relationship conflict. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 613–628. doi: 10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2063.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: applications and data analysis methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Salimetrics. (2011). High sensitivity salivary cortisol enzyme immunoassay kit. Pennsylvania: Salimetrics, LLC.Google Scholar
- Siegel, D. J. (2007). The mindful brain: reflection and attunement in the cultivation of well-being (1st ed.). New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar