Paternal/maternal Attachment, Peer Support, Social Expectations of Peer Interaction, and Depressive Symptoms

Article excerpt

Recent research on depression has articulated a cognitive-interpersonal approach in order to conceptualize depression in adulthood and childhood. According to this model of depression, lack of security may create enduring vulnerabilities to depression or behavioral problems by impairing an individual's ability both to participate in satisfying social relationships and to appropriately understand and evaluate social interactions (Mongrain, 1998; Barrett & Holmes, 2001). The developmental origin of maladaptive cognitions is believed to stem from childhood experiences (Cummings & Cicchetti, 1990; Hammen, 1992a,b). Attachment theory postulates that early relationship experiences will provide a child with cognitive working models of self, relationships, and others in general. These internal structures contain assumptions and expectations about self and others in a social context and thus regulate the processing of information about interpersonal events and relationships (Bowlby, 1979; 1981).

Evidence has indicated that the quality of attachment experiences is associated with a variety of indices of adaptive psychological functioning (Hammen et al., 1995; Kenny et al., 1998; Muris et al., 2001; Papini & Roggman, 1992; Turner-Cobb, et al., 2002; Wei, Heppner, & Mallinckrodt, 2003). The notion of internal and interpersonal models may be useful in elucidating pathways to emotional or behavioral adjustment. Interpersonal schema may filter information about past relationships to help appraise emotional consequences of present interactions. People with dysfunctional interpersonal schema (insecure attachments) which resulted from experiences of parental rejection or inconsistency in early childhood may believe that they are not worthy and therefore not expect responsiveness from others (Hammen et al., 1995). They also tend to report a higher level of anxiety and unfulfilled hopes, and to withdraw from social interaction or to be negative and uncertain in social interactions (Barrett & Holmes, 2001; Feeney & Noller, 1990). Allen and Hauser (1996) suggested that insecure attachments cause defensive exclusion and distortion of memories. Individuals in this state of mind may find it difficult to behave flexibly and nondefensively in other social interactions. They have negative expectations of themselves and others in interactions, which are potentially self-fulfilling and may reduce opportunities for positive social interaction.

In addition to acknowledging and interpreting interpersonal situations, the internal working model also organizes rules of emotional self-regulation and memory access to facilitate responsiveness and recognize availability of attachment figures (Kobak et al., 1993). This view suggests that working models should influence a person's perception of the efficacy of supportive transactions and relationships. Kobak and Sceery (1988) indicated that secure persons are more effective in turning to others for support in times of distress. Inversely, insecure persons are less likely to turn to others for support because they are either overwhelmed by negative emotional arousal or restricted in acknowledgement of their feelings. Other studies also confirmed the belief that secure attachment cognitions are associated with enhanced levels of perceived social support from both family and friends. In contrast, insecure attachment is related to problems in relationships (Blain, Thompson, Whiffen, 1993; Herzberg et al., 1999; Sarason et al., 1991; Wallace & Vaux, 1993). Herzberg et al. (1999) pointed out that securely attached students not only believe that their social environment is more supportive in a global sense, but also reported that their significant others engaged in greater numbers of specific support behaviors. In this context, perception of the availability of others as a resource contributes to a person's self-regulation of distress (Priel & Shamai, 1995). The perceived availability of social support may play an important role in predicting coping efficacy, well-being, and psychological health (Hammen et al. …