Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Attachment, Loneliness, and Social Anxiety: A Comparison of Deaf and Hearing Chinese Adolescents

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Attachment, Loneliness, and Social Anxiety: A Comparison of Deaf and Hearing Chinese Adolescents

Article excerpt

Loneliness is associated with a variety of negative consequences, such as depressive symptoms (Qualter, Brown, Munn, & Rotenberg, 2010), and the manner in which people express and cope with loneliness experiences is significantly related to cultural orientation (i.e., collectivist or individualist; Rokach, 2008). For example, collectivist cultural norms and values cause Chinese adolescents to experience a different trajectory of loneliness from their individualistic Western peers (Chen, Fu, & Leng, 2014). However, to our knowledge, no one has explored possible differences in the relationships among attachment, social anxiety, and loneliness between deaf and hearing adolescents in a Chinese cultural context. Thus, we examined these interrelationships with the aim of extending the current understanding in this regard.

Theoretical Background and Hypotheses Development

Relationships Among Attachment, Social Anxiety, and Loneliness

Researchers have consistently associated attachment with loneliness, such that secure and insecure attachment styles have been found to predict, respectively, lower and higher levels of loneliness (e.g., Bernardon, Babb, Hakim-Larson, & Gragg, 2011; Erozkan, 2011). Western scholars have also shown that socially anxious, compared to socially nonanxious, individuals usually experience a higher level of loneliness (e.g., Beidel et al., 2007), and that there is a strong association between social anxiety and attachment styles (e.g., Brown & Whiteside, 2008). Further, the quality of the attachment bond in childhood may serve as a contributing factor to later development of social anxiety problems (Bernardon et al., 2011). Although social anxiety has been found to be associated with both attachment and loneliness, to our knowledge, no researcher has examined the effect of social anxiety on the relationship between attachment and loneliness. Therefore, we investigated the role of social anxiety in this association.

Attachment, Social Anxiety, and Loneliness Among People With Hearing Impairment

Anxiety disorders may be more common in the deaf population compared to the hearing population because of language barriers. For example, Sisia (2012) found that deaf adolescents reported more frequent feelings of loneliness and mild depression, experienced greater anxiety, and had slightly weaker social networks and support systems. However, other findings are inconsistent, with some scholars suggesting that attachment is not more insecure, and that social anxiety and loneliness are not higher in the deaf population. For example, McKinnon, Moran, and Pederson (2004) did not find significant differences between the attachment style of 50 deaf students who had mostly attended residential schools and a similar group of hearing students. Bossaert, Colpin, Pijl, and Petry (2012) also suggested that there are no significant differences in loneliness between typically developing adolescents and those with sensory disabilities. Some researchers have even found that the deaf population had lower social anxiety than their hearing counterparts (e.g., Vogel-Walcutt, Schatschneider, & Bowers, 2011). However, the focus in most of the latter studies was on deaf participants who were educated in special education schools or who had cochlear implants. Thus, the inconsistent results may be because of the variation in study samples.

In addition, psychological development can be viewed as a process that reflects individual, familial, and cultural influences. Triandis (1989) emphasized the need to understand multiple contexts, highlighting the reciprocal and dynamic influences of contextual factors on individual development. From this perspective, loneliness, social anxiety, and attachment vary across development and are influenced by cultural context. Accordingly, we examined potential differences in relationships among attachment (with mother, father, and peers), social anxiety, and loneliness, between deaf and hearing Chinese adolescents. …

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