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7 Depressive Symptoms in Young Adults

7 Depressive Symptoms in Young Adults - J Adult Dev(2009...

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Depressive Symptoms in Young Adults: The Role of Attachment Orientations and Romantic Relationship Conflict Jennifer F. Marchand-Reilly Published online: 21 January 2009 Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009 Abstract Although romantic involvement in adulthood has generally been associated with enhanced well-being, some aspects of adults’ romantic relationships (e.g., mal- adaptive conflict behaviors) have been linked with depressive symptoms. In order to better understand the role of romantic involvement in well-being, the present study examined links among attachment orientations, conflict behaviors with romantic partners, and depressive symptoms in an undergraduate sample of young adults ( N = 110). Correlational analyses generally supported the hypothe- sized links. When a regression series was applied to the data in order to determine whether young adults’ conflict behaviors serve as a mediator in the link between their attachment orientations and depressive symptoms, media- tion was not supported. Instead, results supported a model wherein attachment orientations and conflict behaviors (attacking) were independent predictors, explaining unique variance in young adults’ depressive symptoms. Findings underscore the importance of considering specific aspects of young adults’ romantic relationships in the prediction of their depressive symptoms and illuminate the role attach- ment orientations and conflict behaviors in their depressive symptoms. Keywords Young adults Á Romantic relationships Á Attachment orientations Á Conflict behaviors Á Depressive symptoms Introduction Establishing and maintaining healthy romantic relation- ships is an important developmental task of early adulthood. Although romantic relationship involvement, per se, has generally been associated with greater well- being among adults (Umberson and Williams 1999 ), cer- tain aspects of romantic relationships (e.g., maladaptive conflict behaviors) have been linked with depressive symptoms (Reese-Weber and Marchand 2002 ). Conse- quently, young adults’ romantic relationships are an important avenue of investigation for better understanding their depressive symptoms. Interpersonal perspectives on depression emphasize the maladaptive behaviors used by depressed individuals dur- ing their interactions with others as being a key factor in the development and maintenance of their depressive symptoms (Brown and Harris 1978 ). Depressed individu- als’ maladaptive interactions with significant others are considered to play an especially critical role (Hinchcliffe et al. 1978 ). Attachment theory is a framework for under- standing both close relationships and emotion regulation strategies (Bowlby 1980 ). Not surprisingly, researchers have begun to recognize its usefulness for understanding the impact of romantic relationships on depressive symp- toms (Davila et al. 2004 ).
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