Adult attachment security and symptoms of depression: the mediating roles of dysfunctional attitudes and low self-esteem

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1996 Feb;70(2):310-20. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.70.2.310.


Three studies investigated the relation between adult attachment security and symptoms of depression. Study l examined the overall magnitude of the association between adult attachment and depression, and Studies 2 and 3 tested whether this relation was mediated by dysfunctional attitudes and low self-esteem. Results from the three studies were consistent with a mediation model. This model suggests that insecure adult attachment styles are associated with dysfunctional attitudes, which in turn predispose to lower levels of self-esteem. Such depletions in self-esteem are directly associated with increases in depressive symptoms over time. Insecure attachment appears to lead to depressive symptoms in adulthood through its impact on self-worth contingencies and self-esteem.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Self Concept*