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Attachment insecurity and dispositional aggression: The mediating role of maladaptive anger regulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Zara Brodie (Lead Author)
  • Karen Goodall
  • Chris McVittie
  • Stephen Darling

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    Rights statement: The final version of this paper has been published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol/Issue, Month/Year by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. © Brodie, Z., Goodall, K., McVittie, C. & Darling, S, year of publication. It is available at: http:// <Acronym>sagepub.com/.

    Accepted author manuscript, 602 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1831-1852
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number6
Early online date2 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


Attachment insecurity has been associated with dysfunctional strategies for emotion regulation, leading to inflexible or maladaptive responding. Currently, application of the attachment framework to anger is underspecified. This study presents a preliminary investigation of attachment-related differences in the dispositional regulation of anger and aggressive outcomes. 270 participants completed measures of adult attachment (attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance), anger regulation processes (anger suppression, unregulated anger and anger control) and aggressive outcomes (physical aggression, verbal aggression and hostility). While those high in attachment anxiety have been found to under-regulate other negative emotions, our results postulate that these individuals may implement a suppression strategy when faced with the experience of anger. Mediation models indicate that anger suppression is implicated in the relationship between attachment dimensions and hostility, but not physical aggression. This supports the notion that suppression may be useful in reducing the external expression of anger, but cannot alleviate the associated internal cognitions. These findings suggest that levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance should be considered when identifying techniques to target specific anger regulatory difficulties that contribute to increased aggression. Further, consideration and exploration of the role of security priming is encouraged as a possible mechanism by which to reduce dispositional hostility in those with high levels of attachment insecurity

    Research areas

  • attachment, anxiety, avoidance, anger, aggression, hostility, emotion regulation

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