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Attachment styles, interpersonal relationships and psychotic phenomena in a non-clinical student sample

Author(s): Berry K, Wearden A, Barrowclough C, Liversidge T

Abstract

This paper describes the development and initial validation of a measure of adult attachment styles based on Bartholomew’s (1990, 1997) model and adapted for use with individuals with psychosis. The associations between the new measure, interpersonal problems, self-concept, relationships with significant others during childhood, traumatic life events and non-clinical psychotic phenomena were examined in a student sample. Three hundred and twenty three students completed study measures via an internet website. In support of the construct validity of the measure, insecure attachment styles were associated with interpersonal problems and anxiety in attachment relationships was associated with low self-esteem. There were weak but significant associations between insecure attachment and more negative experiences of being parented. There was no evidence of associations between attachment and traumatic life events. As predicted, there were significant associations between insecure attachment and non-clinical psychotic phenomena; positive psychotic phenomena were associated with anxiety in attachment relationships, and social anhedonia with avoidance in attachment relationships. Findings suggest that the attachment measure is a valid instrument with good internal consistency, and can be used to explore associations between attachment styles and psychotic symptoms in clinical samples.

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