With(out) a Little Help from My Friends: Insecure Attachment in Adolescence, Support-Seeking, and Adult Negativity and Hostility

Loeb, E., Stern, J. A., Costello, M., & Allen, J. P. (2020).

With(out) a Little Help from My Friends: Insecure Attachment in Adolescence, Support-Seeking, and Adult Negativity and Hostility

. Attachment & Human Development.

Abstract

Attachment theory suggests that insecurely attached individuals will have more difficulty seeking and receiving support from others. Such struggles in adolescence may reinforce negative expectations of others and contribute to relationship difficulties into adulthood. Using a diverse community sample of 184 adolescents followed from age 13 to 27, along with friends and romantic partners, this study found that more insecure states of mind regarding attachment at age 14 predicted relative decreases in teens' abilities to seek and receive support from close friends from ages 14-18. In addition, greater attachment insecurity predicted greater observed negative interactions with romantic partners and relative increases in hostile attitudes from ages 14 to 27. The effect of attachment insecurity on observed negativity was mediated by difficulty seeking/receiving support in friendships during adolescence. Results suggest a type of self-fulfilling prophecy as insecure adolescents confirm their negative expectations of others through ongoing struggles to obtain support.

Keywords: Attachment; friendships; hostility; romantic relationships; social support.

Last updated on 10/27/2021