Attachment, emotional abuse and physical abuse predict schizotypy in a nonclinical sample

Karen Goodall, Lisa Grunwald, Stephen Darling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Objectives: Schizotypy refers to latent personality organization that reflects individual proneness to psychosis and schizophrenia therefore research into schizotypy often has the aim of elucidating the etiology of schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia. Over the last few years a relationship has been demonstrated between childhood abuse /neglect and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizotypy). Alongside this, contemporary research has increasingly highlighted the role of attachment insecurity in the development of personality disorder. Several studies have indicated a relationship between attachment insecurity and the presence of schizotypal traits in adults it is apparent that childhood abuse and neglect rarely occurs within the context of psychologically healthy relationships therefore it isimportant to examine the contributions of attachment and childhood trauma together. Despite this there is no other study, to our knowledge, that assesses whether childhood abuse/trauma and attachment function as independent predictors. 
Design: Correlational design based on self-report questionnaires. Methods: 127 participants completed an online questionnaire battery comprising: the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire- Brief Form (SPQ-B), the Experiences in Adult Relationships-Revised (ECR-R) and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ).Standard multiple regression was used to test whetherattachment and childhood trauma variables significantly predict total schizotypy scores. 
Findings: The regression model was a reliable predictor of schizotypy levels (F(7,119) = 10.76, p <.005: R2= .39), explaining approximately 39% of the variance in total schizotypy scores. Individually, attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, emotional abuse and physical abuse were all significant predictors of schizotypy. Emotional abuse was the biggest predictor of schizotypy, accounting for 7% of variance. No effect was found for other types of childhood abuse or neglect. Conclusions: This study is the first to demonstrate that attachment and childhood experiences function independently as predictors of schizotypy. In some individuals, schizotypy may arise from adverse social environments, rather than through genetics. Although limited by the correlational, self report design, this study demonstrates that emotional abuse, physical abuse and insecure attachment relationship may be related to the development of schizotypal features. Future research should examine the effects of childhood trauma alongside the social context of attachment relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImpact 2013 International Psychological Applications Conference and Trends
Subtitle of host publicationBook of Proceedings
EditorsClara Pracana, Liliana Silva
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventInPACT 2013 International Psychological Applications Conference and Trends - Madrid, Spain
Duration: 26 Apr 201328 Apr 2013


ConferenceInPACT 2013 International Psychological Applications Conference and Trends


  • schizotypy
  • attachment
  • emotional abuse
  • physical abuse

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