Adult attachment and emotion regulation: better predictors of subjective or objective health?
Natalie L Tuck, Nathan S Consedine
Background: Although patterns of relating – attachments – appear useful in predicting health outcomes, studies are yet to evaluate whether attachment characteristics predict both objective and subjective outcomes equally. Further, although prior work has identified trait emotionality as a contributing factor, the possibility that attachment related differences in emotion regulation are associated with health outcomes has not been investigated. Methods: Between 2002 and 2004, 616 older men and women completed measures of attachment along with demographics, health reports, and measures of emotion regulation. Results: Analysis (conducted in 2012) revealed that both security and fearful avoidance predicted better subjective health, while preoccupied attachment predicted worse subjective and objective health outcomes. Conclusions: Attachment dimensions predicted health even when controlling for demographic factors, but were a better predictor of subjective than objective health outcomes. The inclusion of regulatory factors weakened some links between attachment and health, suggesting that patterns of emotion regulation may play a role in attachment – health links. Directions for future research and implications are discussed.