Pathways to depression from childhood and adulthood attachment
Background: The overall aim of the present study was to clanfy the role of attachment as a vulnerability factor towards depression. Further aims were to examine whether attachment was continuous and offered a conduit through which childhood experiences could have an effect on mood In adulthood; and to explore whether each of childhood and adulthood attachment each had separate roles with regards to vulnerability towards depression due to discontinuity between childhood and adulthood attachment, It was hypothesised that the attachment system would not act as a conduit between childhood experiences and depression. It was hypothesised that the association between childhood attachment and depression could instead be mediated by a third variable outside of the attachment system; the Involuntary Defeat Strategy. Attachment theory holds that attachment style moderates the effect of stressors upon depression. It was therefore hypothesised that adult attachment style would moderate the association between stressors and depression. The temporal association between adult attachment and depression is unclear. Based on the findings of prospective studies, It was hypothesised that adult attachment would predict depression over time previous research had used the Parental Bonding Instrument (Parker, Tupling, & Brown, 1979) as an indicator of childhood attachment. It was hypothesised that the Parental Bonding Instrument was not an adequate measure of attachment and by using this measure, past research had been Impeded. A new measure of childhood attachment was therefore constructed for the present study. Method. Data were collected using questionnaires on current depression, childhood attachment experiences, adult romantic attachment, social comparison, and defeat. 1 Data were collected at two stages, with a five month interval. Intemet Mediated data collection and the "paper and pencil" method were both used there were 244 (200 females and 44 males) participants at time one, of which 70 (55 females and 15 males) returned at time two. Results: It was found that the new measure was an improved measure of childhood attachment when compared with the Parental Bonding Instrument. As expected, the association between childhood attachment and depression was mediated by the third variable outside of the attachment system; the Involuntary Defeat Strategy. Contrary to expectations, the association between childhood attachment and depression was mediated by adulthood attachment Changing to a secure adult attachment style had the effect of attenuating the influence of childhood experiences on depression. As hypothesised, It was found that adulthood attachment moderated the association between a stressor and depression specifically, a significant association was found between a stressor and depression only for those participants with an insecure attachment style. Finally, the temporal association between adult attachment and depression could not be established. Both attachment and depression were consistent over time. Conclusions: It was concluded that attachment was a stable vulnerability factor through which childhood experiences could have an effect on depressed mood in adulthood. The pathway from childhood attachment to depression was also mediated by the Involuntary Defeat Strategy. It was concluded that childhood attachment presented an early vulnerability factor, and adult attachment moderated the association between a source of stress and depression suggestions were made for future research where a temporal association between adult attachment and depression would be detected.