Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Adult Attachment, God Attachment and Gender in Relation to Perceived Stress

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Adult Attachment, God Attachment and Gender in Relation to Perceived Stress

Article excerpt

This study examines whether adult attachment, God attachment and gender are related to perceived stress. Based on the literature on these variables, it was expected that adult and God attachment would predict perceived stress, that God attachment would have incremental validity over adult attachment in predicting perceived stress and that gender would be a moderator in the relationship between attachment and perceived stress. Two hundred seventy-six participants from a private, Christian university in Southern California completed questionnaires assessing these variables. Multivariate regression analyses indicated that adult and God attachment anxiety as well as adult attachment avoidance significantly predicted perceived stress. Furthermore, God attachment anxiety had incremental validity over adult attachment. Interestingly, gender was a suppressor variable in the relationship between attachment anxiety and perceived stress. Therefore, attachment relationships with one's partner and God are both important in explaining perceived stress level. Gender may also play an indirect role in this relationship, though this concept should be further validated with future research.

Stress has been studied extensively, because of its impact on psychological well-being and other variables (Bergdahl & Bergdahl, 2002; Brummett, Babyak, Mark, Clapp-Channing, Siegler, & Barefoot, 2004; Cohen, Kamarck & Mermelstein, 1983). Its importance has resulted in a large body of literature addressing psychological theory, research, and practice (Mikulincer & Florian, 1998). Many studies have focused on objective methods of measuring stress such as using an inventory that measures the amount of stress-inducing factors that are present in one's life (Cohen et al., 1983). Yet other researchers have argued that the level of objective stress is not as important as the level of stress that one feels and experiences, which can be very different for each individual, even with the same number of objective stressors. How individuals perceive their stress level is an important factor in susceptibility to psychological, emotional, and even physical illness (Cohen et al., 1983).

While numerous studies have been published on this topic, there is still a debate regarding the personal factors and context that may influence one's perception of stress (Bergdahl & Bergdahl, 2002; Brummett et al., 2004). Individual differences, such as genetic differences, specific aspects of life history, or social stratification, seem to play a role in the process (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Mikulincer and Florian (1998) emphasized that future studies should examine various "inner resources and personality characteristics" (p. 161) that may make a difference in stress appraisal and coping, both of which have implications for perceived stress level. Previous studies have looked at various aspects of personality that affect stress appraisal (Hemenover & Zhang, 2004; Stoeber & Rennert, 2008), and this study hopes to expand this body of research. Attachment and gender seem to be promising areas of study in relation to perceived stress, as explored in the next sections.

Attachment

Attachment theory has been widely accepted as a model of psychosocial and emotional development (McDonald, Beck, Allison & Norsworthy, 2005). It is one of the current leading relational paradigms in developmental, personality, and social psychology, and is also being extended to psychology of religion research (Granqvist, 2002). In the 1940s, John Bowl-by proposed that "the disruption of the early mother-child relationship should be seen as a key precursor of mental disorder" (Fonagy & Target, 2003, p. 230). Bowlby's work indicated that many individual differences are related to one's early tics to one's mother figure, especially during the first twelve months of life (Bowlby, 1958). These early emotional experiences "may be regulated or dysregulated, imprinting either secure or insecure attachments and thereby a resistance against or vulnerability to future psychopathologies" (Schore, 2005, p. …

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