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The Major Adult Attachment Styles

The article chosen for the critique was written by Marganska, Gallagher, and Miranda (2013). It investigates the problem of attachment, emotion dysregulation, and their relation to the symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to the authors, attachment style and emotion regulation can be linked, and such a link can lead to different psychological outcomes, for example, the development of depression or anxiety symptoms (Marganska et al., 2013). The research question is the following: how do difficulties with emotion regulation affect the relation between depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and adult attachment?

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The authors discuss four major adult attachment styles; they point out that those styles based on avoidant and anxious attachment are associated with depressive symptoms (Marganska et al., 2013). The main point of the study is the relation between insecure attachments, emotion regulation, depression, and GAD. To support their point, the authors use literature about emotion regulation and adult attachment, as well as research on the relation between high anxiety and/or depression levels and insecure attachments.

Marganska et al. (2013) formulate several hypotheses: adults with secure attachment show more efficient emotion regulation, efficient emotion regulation is linked to lower depression and GAD symptoms, insecure attachment is related to greater emotion dysregulation and higher symptoms of GAD and depression, and the lack of emotion acceptance mediates the relation between GAD and insecure attachment.

The researchers use a sample size of undergraduate students to test their hypotheses (Marganska et al., 2013). The participants were provided with different self-report measures that they completed. The authors use statistical software and t-tests with Bonferroni corrections to address possible errors and research inequalities (Marganska et al., 2013).

Evaluate the Research Methods

Although there is no explicit literature review in the study, the authors provide a detailed examination of literature related to the problem in the sections dedicated to the measurement of adult attachment, emotion regulation, and the relation between adult attachment, depression, and GAD (Marganska et al., 2013). While describing definitions and terms significant to the study, the authors draw upon literature that directly relates to the problem, thus providing the reader with an implicit literature review.

The research was conducted in 2013 and is current; it addresses the highly relevant issues of psychiatric care and help that citizens of the USA require. According to ADAA (2016), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the USA. It was diagnosed in approximately 18% of the population (40 million Americans) (ADAA, 2016). It is an observational study, i.e. a cross-sectional study with a nonclinical sample; it is descriptive and non-experimental.

The sample size should be examined attentively as well. It consists of 284 individuals. The majority of them is female: 230 female and 54 male participants. All individuals are undergraduate students in an ethnically diverse college in the northeastern Unites States (New York, NY). As to the ethnic background of the sample size, 35% of it are White, 26% are Asian, 18% are Hispanic, 14% are Black, and 7% identify as other (Marganska et al., 2013).

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The disadvantages of the sample size are the following: it is relatively small, mostly female, not significantly diverse, and not clinical (the authors do not know how many (if any) participants have been diagnosed with depression or GAD). It would be inaccurate to state that it is biased, but it does not allow drawing any definite conclusions about the relation between GAD/depression symptoms and adult attachment because it is unknown how many participants are diagnosed with these disorders.

Despite these significant disadvantages, I still believe that the conducted research is practical because it can be applied both to those with and without GAD or depression. Furthermore, it also can help medical professionals evaluate the importance of emotion regulation and different styles of adult attachment. As the researchers point out, adult attachment and its assessment are sources of debate among scientific professionals (Marganska et al., 2013). Therefore, this research can help understand how important adult attachment is and whether it should be researched more extensively. Furthermore, little research was conducted on the connection between emotion regulation difficulties, emotional functioning, and different styles of attachment (Marganska et al., 2013).

The authors believe that the results of the study can be used as means to distinguish the influence of different styles of attachment on depression and anxiety symptoms (Marganska et al., 2013). Moreover, their research also identifies various dimensions of emotion dysregulation that psychiatrists can target during treatment (Marganska et al., 2013). Other research findings include different strategies that adults can use depending on their style of attachment. For example, inability to control behavior (or impulse) can be perceived as more common for people with emotion regulation difficulties and linked to GAD. Individuals with GAD experience emotions in a more intense way and can be unable to control them (Marganska et al., 2013). The strategies used by individuals and their styles of attachment can be interpreted by psychiatrists as possible indications of GAD before the emergence of other symptoms.

As I have already mentioned, the study’s principal disadvantage is its homogenous and nonclinical sample size. In my opinion, the authors should have selected a particular sample size for the study that would consist of people with diagnosed GAD. Furthermore, an equal distribution of male and female participants would also be more beneficial for the research.

The writing in the article is clear, straightforward, to the point, and comprehensible. It seems to me that the writing style of the authors is one of the advantages of the article since it allows them to introduce and discuss the problem in detail. No side themes or irrelevant information are present, and the results shown in tables are discussed profoundly in the body of the paper.

Further research is needed to understand whether emotion dysregulation and dysfunctional attachments are more common in individuals with GAD and depression symptoms. Additional research will also help find out whether any prevention strategies can be based on individual’s attachment style if any GAD or depression symptoms are present. It remains unclear whether attachment styles influence the possible emergence of GAD or, on the contrary, GAD influences them (Marganska et al., 2013).

If the latter is true, then psychiatrists will need to gain more information about the impact of GAD on adult attachment and whether it is always negative. It is possible that not the attachment style but GAD is responsible for the majority of depressive symptoms in a person. Since GAD often develops before adulthood and can be a consequence of child neglect, a similar study needs to be conducted on children who experience or have experienced maltreatment (Schimmenti & Bifulco, 2015). Such research will help psychiatrists understand whether attachment styles related to GAD emerge in childhood.

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The research provides practical implications for psychiatrists and other professionals related to psychiatry and psychology. It is comprehensible and can be used as a guide on the relation between adult attachment, emotion regulation, and symptoms of GAD and depression.

The major disadvantages of the study include small, homogenous, and nonclinical sample size, as well as its descriptive nature. To fully understand the relation between the discussed issues, the authors will need to conduct a more profound research with a larger clinical sample size. The influence of GAD on attachment styles is also possible, and this problem has to be addressed separately in additional research.

Nevertheless, the authors provide a well-described and clear research that, despite its weaknesses, can be used as a guide for psychiatrists and other medical professionals. This study will also be useful for people with GAD who aim to understand how GAD and emotion regulation can influence each other. The use of self-report measures can also lead to bias, but the authors use additional strategies to diminish the role of bias in their research.

Further research can focus on the interconnection between GAD symptoms, emotion dysregulation, and attachment styles in children with GAD to understand whether childhood neglect can contribute to the development of GAD and dangerous attachment types. Overall, the study makes a small but significant contribution to the GAD and emotion regulation discourse in American adults. Since GAD is one of the most common mental illnesses in the USA, the research can be perceived as current and relevant and can facilitate psychiatric clinical practice.


ADAA. (2016). Did you know?

Marganska, A., Gallagher, M., & Miranda, R. (2013). Adult attachment, emotion dysregulation, and symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety disorder. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 83(1), 131-141.

Schimmenti, A., & Bifulco, A. (2015). Linking lack of care in childhood to anxiety disorders in emerging adulthood: The role of attachment styles. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 20(1), 41-48.

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