Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

James F. Paulson (Director)

Committee Member

Michelle L. Kelley

Committee Member

Robin J. Lewis


The construct of resilience has been widely associated with the ability to adequately cope with stressors, which leads to positive long-term health outcomes. Attachment and emotional coping style literatures have both been tentatively linked to resilience, with dismissive and secure attachment styles as well as the repressive coping style positively associated with resilience. However, both avoidantly attached and repressive individuals employ coping strategies that allow them to dissociate from negative emotions, which seems to contradict the stress adaptive quality of resilience. The goal of this study was to explore the theoretical parallel between the attachment and emotional coping styles literature as well as to examine the mediating effect of emotional coping in the relationship between attachment and resilience.

A convenience sample of 266 participants (110 men; 156 women) completed online questionnaires regarding attachment, trait anxiety, defensiveness, and resilience. It was expected that attachment behaviors would theoretically coincide with the dimensional characteristics underlying emotional coping styles (defensiveness and trait anxiety) as well as uniquely predict odds of belonging to categories of emotional coping styles; attachment avoidance and anxiety would differentially predict resilience; and emotional coping style dimensions would mediate the relations between attachment behaviors and resilience. Results of regression and path analyses revealed that attachment avoidance was negatively associated with defensiveness and attachment anxiety positively predicted trait anxiety. Both attachment anxiety and avoidance negatively predicted resilience. Exploratory analyses revealed that defensiveness positively predicted resilience whereas trait anxiety negatively predicted resilience. Trait anxiety mediated the relationship between attachment anxiety and resilience. Results suggest that repressive and avoidant individuals display similar coping strategies, but possess unique motivations for employing these strategies. The findings call into question the efficacy of relying on the construct of resilience as an indicator of well-being and it is suggested that health providers implement a physiological stress assessment in conjunction with traditional measures of resilience and well-being.


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