Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Attachment Orientations: Predicting Psychological Distress in German and Turkish Samples

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Attachment Orientations: Predicting Psychological Distress in German and Turkish Samples

Article excerpt

Attachment orientations are fundamental concepts in attachment theory and are found to be related to individuals' wide array of behaviors and well-being (see Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007), particularly with regard to close relationships and coping with life difficulties (e.g., Mikulincer, Shaver, & Pereg, 2003). However, there is an ongoing debate about the universality of attachment theory (Rothbaum & Morelli, 2005). The traditional view proposes that basic tenets of attachment theory apply universally to people of all cultures (see van IJzendoorn & Sagi-Schwartz, 2008). An opposing viewpoint considers differences in contextual factors, proposing that the theory has both similarities and differences in antecedents and consequences of attachment postulates (e.g., attachment orientations) across cultures (Fraley, Roisman, Booth-LaForce, Owen, & Holland, 2013; Greenfield, Keller, Fuligni, & Maynard, 2003; Keller, 2013; Polek, Wohrle, & van Oudenhoven, 2010; Rothbaum & Morelli, 2005). This debate regarding cultural variations in attachment orientations has implications for counseling. Cultural variations in attachment orientations may illuminate the conceptualization of differences in clients' psychological distress across cultures. Furthermore, attachment orientations affect the formation of clients' therapeutic relationship and therapy outcomes (Gallagher, Tasca, Ritchie, Balfour, & Bissada, 2014; Mallinckrodt, Choi, & Daly, 2015). Identifying variations in the attachment orientations across cultures may provide guidance for counselors in forming therapeutic relationships (Gallagher et al., 2014; Mallinckrodt et al., 2015; Pistole, 1999) with clients across cultural backgrounds. In the present study, we examined the association of attachment orientations and psychological distress in German and Turkish samples. Our study informs the debate addressing cultural variations in attachment orientations, particularly with respect to implications for counseling.

* Attachment Theory

Attachment theory proposes that, over the course of ongoing interactions, children develop patterns of attachment and internalize these patterns as their mental scripts (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bowlby, 1969; Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007). These mental scripts form attachment orientations throughout childhood and into adulthood (Ainsworth et al., 1978; Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007), with important implications for psychological health across the life span (Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007, 2012).

There are several models of examining attachment orientations (e.g., Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Hazan & Shaver, 1987; Simpson, Rholes, & Nelligan, 1992). One model portrays two-dimensional attachment orientations, such as attachment avoidance and anxiety, anticipating individuals' response patterns to stressors (MacBeth, Shwannauer, & Gumley, 2008; Mikulincer et al., 2003; Simpson et al., 1992). From these two dimensions, attachment styles can be determined (Mikulincer et al., 2003). Individuals with low attachment anxiety and avoidance represent the secure attachment style and are depicted as comfortable with closeness, interdependence, support seeking, and adaptive coping strategies (Mikulincer et al., 2003; Simpson & Belsky, 2008). In contrast, individuals high on anxious and avoidant dimensions represent the areas of insecure attachments and are portrayed as having risk factors in coping with distress (see Mikulincer & Shaver, 2012). Some researchers regard the relationship of attachment orientations with psychological distress as universal patterns of regulating internal and interpersonal conflicts (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2012; van IJzendoorn & Sagi-Schwartz, 2008), whereas other researchers argue that there are cultural variations in these basic patterns (Keller, 2013; Konrath, Chopik, Hsing, & O'Brien, 2014; Polek et al. …

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