Perceived social support moderates the link between attachment anxiety and health outcomes

Sarah C. E. Stanton, Lorne Campbell, Mun Yin Ho (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two literatures have explored some of the effects intimate relationships can have on physical and mental health outcomes. Research investigating health through the lens of attachment theory has demonstrated that more anxiously attached individuals in particular consistently report poorer health. Separate research on perceived social support (e.g., partner or spousal support) suggests that higher support has salutary influences on various health outcomes. Little to no research, however, has explored the interaction of attachment anxiety and perceived social support on health outcomes. The present study examined the attachment-health link and the moderating role of perceived social support in a community sample of married couples. Results revealed that more anxious persons reported poorer overall physical and mental health, more bodily pain, more medical symptoms, and impaired daily functioning, even after controlling for age, relationship length, neuroticism, and marital quality. Additionally, perceived social support interacted with attachment anxiety to influence health; more anxious individuals' health was poorer even when perceived social support was high, whereas less anxious individuals' health benefited from high support. Possible mechanisms underlying these findings and the importance of considering attachment anxiety in future studies of poor health in adulthood are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere95358
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2014


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