Testing Desire for Greater Closeness as a Mediator of the Associations of Attachment Anxiety with Self-Esteem and Depressive Symptoms

Lindsy Koroly, Pace University

Abstract

Wanting to expand the self by incorporating aspects of close others into one's self-concept is a natural human motivation (Aron & Aron, 1986). However, people high in attachment anxiety have a greater desire than those low in attachment anxiety to increase closeness in romantic relationships, causing them to experience greater confusion in their sense of self (Slotter & Gardner, 2012) and greater emotional distress when their relationships end (Barbara & Dion, 2000). The present study sought to investigate how this desire for greater closeness for individuals high in attachment anxiety may result in negative outcomes for the self. Given that anxious attachment is associated with depression and low self-esteem (Hankin, Kassel, & Abela, 2005), the present study aimed to examine desire for greater closeness as a partial mediator of the associations of attachment anxiety with self-esteem and depressive symptoms. A total of 245 participants (167 currently in romantic relationships, and 78 not currently in romantic relationships) completed an online survey containing measures of current and desired closeness for their romantic relationships (if they were in a relationship) and friendships, as well as measures of attachment, self-esteem, and depressive symptoms. I predicted that desire for greater closeness in romantic relationships, but not friendships, would be higher for people high in attachment anxiety, and that this desire would partially mediate associations of attachment anxiety with self-esteem and depressive symptoms. Results were that attachment anxiety in both friendships and romantic relationships was associated with lower self-esteem and greater depressive symptoms. In romantic relationships, desire for greater closeness was not associated with attachment anxiety, self-esteem, or depressive symptoms. Attachment anxiety in friendships predicted desire for greater closeness to one's best friend, but desire for greater closeness in friendships did not mediate associations of attachment anxiety with self-esteem and depressive symptoms because it did not predict these outcomes. Findings suggest that attachment anxiety is an important area of focus in treatment for clients presenting with low self-esteem and/or depressive symptoms. Future research may examine what other factors may serve as mediators of associations of attachment anxiety with self-esteem and depressive symptoms, such as relationship satisfaction or conflict within relationships.^ Keywords: attachment anxiety; close relationships; depressive symptoms; desire for greater closeness; inclusion of other in self; self-esteem ^

Subject Area

Psychology|Clinical psychology|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Koroly, Lindsy, "Testing Desire for Greater Closeness as a Mediator of the Associations of Attachment Anxiety with Self-Esteem and Depressive Symptoms" (2017). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10669689.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI10669689

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