Adult Attachment, Mental Health and the Potential Mitigating Role of Psychological Flexibility
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The association between attachment and mental health has been extensively researched in recent decades (Bowlby, 1969; Kafetsios & Sideridis, 2006; Karreman & Vingerhoets 2012; Magai et al., 2016). An attempt has often been made to understand which aspects of attachment may be particularly important for wellbeing. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is centralized around the concept of psychological flexibility and its importance in overcoming problems. This thesis examines the possible association of the interaction between psychological flexibility and attachment with mental health by performing a moderator analysis. It was hypothesized that psychological flexibility moderated the association between the insecure attachment style and reduced mental health, such that there would be a lower association between the insecure attachment style and reduced mental health with higher psychological flexibility than at lower levels. The mindful dimension of psychological flexibility in particular was expected to be a potential moderator, which was tested in a second moderator analysis. The regression analyses confirmed a significant association of psychological flexibility with mental health. However, there was no association found of attachment and mental health. Also, no interaction effect was found of psychological flexibility and attachment with mental health. The outcomes are limited by the cross-sectional design of the current study. A clinical experiment is suggested to determine whether psychological flexibility can overrule the potential negative effects of insecure attachment.