The distinctive role of romantic relationships in moderating the effects of early caregiving on adult anxious-depressed symptoms over 9 years

Dev Psychopathol. 2013 Aug;25(3):843-56. doi: 10.1017/S0954579413000205.


This study tests a model of young adult romantic quality as a moderator of the effects of early caregiving on anxious-depressed symptoms over a 9-year period in adulthood. Participants (n = 93) were a subsample from a longitudinal study of risk and adaptation. Quality of early caregiving was measured using observational data collected at five points in the first 4 years of life. Young adult romantic relationship quality was assessed from interviews with participants at age 23. Self-report anxious-depressed symptoms were measured at ages 23, 26, and 32. The results indicated that romantic quality moderated early caregiving to predict symptom levels across this period, with evidence for inoculation, amplification, and compensation effects. A discriminant analysis examining young adult work competence as a moderator provided further evidence for the distinctiveness of romantic relationships in changing the association between early caregiving and adult internalizing symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*